Nel's New Day

July 15, 2016

January 14, 2016

Oscar Stays White

Filed under: Discrimination — trp2011 @ 9:33 PM
Tags: , , , ,
Academy Awards host Chris Rock poses for photographers backstage at the 77th Academy Awards Sunday, Feb. 27, 2005, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Laura Rauch)

Academy Awards host Chris Rock poses for photographers backstage at the 77th Academy Awards Sunday, Feb. 27, 2005, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Laura Rauch)

The announcement of 2016 Academy Awards nominees today came with no surprises—a white-out in actor nominations with no people of color in the top 20 acting nominees for the second year in a row. The last time that the acting nominees list was all white before 2014 was 1997. In addition, not one Best Director nominee is a woman. One of the very few black people up front for the Oscar presentations on February 7 will be host, Chris Rock.

One slight hope for diversity last year came from the four awards for Birdman, a film about a washed-up white actor. All four—Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Cinematography–came from Mexican talent. This link to Mexican culture, however, started with Sean Penn’s “joke”: “Who gave this son of a bitch a green card?” Despite Penn’s friendship with director Alejandro González Iñárritu, hashtag #PennDejo opened up a viral dialog on racial coding. After being designated as an “other” in the elitist Academy community, Iñárritu used his short time to dedicate his Oscar to Mexicans living on both sides of the U.S. border.

“I pray that we can find and build a government that we deserve, and the ones that live in this country, who are a part of the latest generation of immigrants in this country, I just pray that they can be treated with the same dignity and respect as the ones who came before and built this incredible immigrant nation.”

For the second year in a row, a Mexican director was nominated last year for Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón was awarded Best Director for Gravity in 2014. Mexican cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who won his second Academy Award, had been nominated for his seventh Oscar. In 2007, three Mexican-born directors were nominated for Academy Awards: Iñárritu for Babel, Cuarón for Children of Men, and Guillermo del Toro for Pan’s Labyrinth. Last year, nominations for the front of the camera were white, but less visible people were more people of color.

Racial injustice may have been ignored over last year when Selma received only two nominations, but Common and John Legend, winners of the Best Original Song trophy, used their time to point out the film’s relevance. Legend said:

“Selma is now because the struggle for justice is right now. We know that the voting rights, the act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today. We know that right now the struggle for freedom and justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850.”

Three times last year, speakers talked about suicide prevention. Graham Moore, winning screenwriter for The Imitation Game about closeted gay codebreaker Alan Turing during World War II, spoke about trying to kill himself as a teen because he felt different.

“Alan Turing never got to stand on a stage like this and look out at all of these disconcertingly attractive faces. And I do. And that’s the most unfair thing I think I’ve ever heard. So in this brief time here what I would want to use it to do is to say this: when I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself. Because I felt weird, and I felt different, and I felt like I did not belong. And now I’m standing here, and so I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes you do. I promise you do – you do. Stay weird, stay different. And then, when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage please pass this message to the next person who comes along.”

In the categories for film shorts, “The Phone Call” (fiction) and “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1” (nonfiction) gave representations of suicide call centers and the importance of having these resources for people in need. Julianne Moore devoted part of her speech to discuss Alzheimer’s research, asking people to be more inclusive of people with the disorder and increase medical research to end the disease.

The crew of  Citizenfour talked about Edward Snowden and his whistleblowing advocacy. Director Laura Poitras said:

“The disclosures that Edward Snowden reveals don’t only expose a threat to our privacy, but to our democracy itself. When the most important decisions being made affecting all of us are made in secret, we lose our ability to check the powers that control. Thank you to Edward Snowden for his courage and for the many other whistleblowers.”

Regarding issues of sexism, Best Actress nominee Reese Witherspoon championed a social media campaign (#AskHerMore) encouraging the media to ask women about more than their outfits. Another issue during last year Oscars was wage equality after the Sony Pictures email hack revealed that Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams earned significantly less than their male co-stars. Best Supporting Actress winner Patricia Arquette said:

“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”

Her statement brought ire from Stacey Dash on the Fox network, who thinks that John F. Kennedy’s equal pay law has been successful. Dash went on to agree with “Mr. Trump,” who also wants a time when no one cares about racial and gender equality at the Oscars, and claimed, “I miss the glamour. The elegance. The class. The majesty of the Oscars.” She added that American Sniper” was “the most beautiful film [she’d] seen in a long time.” Dash is also known for starring in Clueless.  

Charlize Theron negotiated a $10 million dollar raise after the Sony hack of The Interview revealed her male co-star was being paid millions more than she was.

Before last year, political comments in the Oscar speeches were fewer than once a year and connected with a documentary in a political issue. Last year, the many references to social issues were largely cheered by the audience unlike ones in the 20th century such as Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins’ addressing the federal detention at Guantanamo Bay of HIV-positive Haitians fleeing a a coup d’état and Vanessa Redgrave’s speech accusing “Zionist hoodlums” of campaigning against her. Michael Moore was booed in 2003 for his Bowling for Columbine acceptance speech.

Last year, Chris Rock wrote a blistering op-ed piece about the whiteness of the film industry. As host this year, he may be able to deliver it in person. Any socially aware comments will be sure to bring down the fury of white conservatives. This year’s Oscar nominations depict the world as they see it, a world that is long gone.

May 29, 2015

Pataki, Santorum Widen GOP Candidate Field


The GOP presidential candidate field increased by one-third this week with former candidate Rick Santorum and former New York governor George Pataki entering the fray. Rebranding himself without his iconic sweater vest, Santorum, a Catholic, is setting himself up as the evangelical alternative to Mike Huckabee, and the largely unknown Pataki will counter with his moderate—for Republicans—positions.

Santorum wants to move forward after unforgettable  statements on the Internet. He told an audience that President J.F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech on religious liberty made him want to “throw up” and accused President Obama of trying to get college education for more youth to turn them into liberals. His inarticulate ramblings against marriage equality became a Google sensation:

 “In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality—”

Associated Press reporter Lara Jakes Jordan interrupted Santorum:

“I’m sorry, I didn’t think I was going to talk about ‘man on dog’ with a United States senator, it’s sort of freaking me out.”

After that, Santorum stuck to showing the difference in marriages by waving napkins and paper towels. Columnist Dan Savage, however, ran a contest for a Santorum definition, the winner being “the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the by-product of anal sex.” Santorum continued by criticizing the Supreme Court’s right that its ruling in Lawrence v. Texas would lead to bigamy and incest. In other references he accused gays of being pedophiles and engaging in bestiality. Santorum’s incest statement is unfortunate because he is a good friend of the Duggar family, and Savage is working on a definition for “duggary.”  

Contraception is “not OK,” according to Santorum. “It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” At the same time, he hates single mothers because he thinks people who “look to the government for help” give Democrats an advantage in getting votes. He believes that building two-parent families will “eliminate that desire for government.”

According to Santorum, the separation of church and state, although not in the U.S. Constitution, is “in the constitution of the former Soviet Union,” another GOP myth. Scholars have translated Article 124 of the Soviet Union’s 1947 version constitution: “In order to ensure to citizens freedom of conscience, the church in the USSR is separated from the state, and the school from the church. Freedom of religious worship and freedom of anti-religious propaganda is recognized for all citizens.”

Santorum’s impassioned bombasts also led him to claim that blacks are those who get benefits from the country’s safety net. In Sioux City (IA) he told his audience, composed primarily of whites, that he didn’t want to “make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.” He later denied using the term “black,” saying he meant “blah people.” Later, he began a sentence with “We know the candidate Barack Obama, what he was like – the anti-war government nig …”

Other Santorum statements:

The United States shouldn’t put women in combat because “emotions that are involved,” rendering them not fit for the battlefield. His dire predictions about letting lesbians and gays serve in the military have not come to fruition.

“The NBA” and “rock concerts” are corrupting U.S. culture, possibly because of the “blah people.”

Obamacare is like apartheid as well as a plot to kill the opposition’s voters and the “final death knell” of America. The apartheid statement was made after the death of Nelson Mandela to illustrate Santorum’s believe that people having health care in the U.S. is a “great injustice.” Santorum explained that health care is a system to “take care of the people who can vote and people who can’t vote, get rid of them as quickly as possible by not giving them care so they can’t vote against you.”

Health insurance companies should discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. Santorum’s reason is the expense to the insurance company.

People who don’t have IDs are trying to rig the election. Although over ten percent of people living legally in the U.S. don’t have a government-issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license or a passport, Santorum said, “The only reason you don’t have a voter ID is you want to continue to perpetrate fraud.”

Consensual LGBT sex should be illegal. “We can’t have a constitutional right to consensual sexual activity, no matter what it is,” Santorum said.

The U.S. is on the path to behead religious (aka Christian) people because of their faith, because of President Obama’s “overt hostility to faith in America.” Santorum’s faith, however, supported Penn State’s former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky because the “conclusions … [regarding child molestation] aren’t matched by the evidence that they presented.”

Some may declaim that these comments are in the past. Last night, however, Santorum said on the Kelly File that President Obama wasn’t killing enough people because he was afraid of “blowback” from killing civilians. Santorum’s position is that if the U.S. isn’t killing enough civilians because “it’s a public relations campaign.” If he became president, Santorum said, he would order air strikes on Iran if the country didn’t open up all their suspected nuclear program facilities.

To Santorum, “all the people who live in the West Bank are Israelis, they’re not Palestinians. There is no ‘Palestinian.’ This is Israeli land.” In his announcement speech, Rick said he wants to “drive a stake” through Common Core, junk the IRS, and institute a flat tax so that the poor pays the same percentage as Bill Gates.

Yesterday, Santorum said he worries about “anti-government rhetoric” and argued there is a place for government. “Government’s us,” he said. It’s a radical—and probably not permanent—shift from his claims that President Obama is a tyrant who “intentionally turned his back on evil and let it prosper around the world.” He has also said that the president is faking a war with ISIS to permit Christian persecution and “has a deep-seated antipathy toward American values and traditions.”  According to Santorum, business owners who refuse service to gay customers have been sent to “reeducation camps” and pastors will soon be jailed or martyred.

Every candidate needs a billionaire, and Santorum’s major donor is the same as during his last presidential run: Foster Friess, who claims that he won’t be using a super PAC which reports donors. “The money I give will be hard to track,” said Friess. The donor is memorable for suggesting that women use an aspirin for birth control by putting one between their knees.

George Pataki, who announced his candidacy the day after Santorum, is about as far from the rest of the current crowd as a Republican candidate can get. In supporting a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people in the U.S., Pataki said that the country cannot “send 11 million people back in railroad cars and buses and trains.” When signing a law to legalize marriage equality in New York, he said that the GOP’s focus on issues such as marriage equality and abortion are a “distraction” that hurt the party’s chance of retaking the White House. After the recent disastrous Amtrak derailment, Pataki called for major investments in the rail system and pushes for high-speed trains in the Northeast Corridor. He is also in favor of environmental preservation efforts, abortion rights and gun control laws.

In its endorsement for Pataki’s third gubernatorial term in 2002, the so-called liberal New York Times praised Pataki’s “generally progressive stance on social issues.” This time, the NYT wrote that Pataki wants to deploy ground troops to take out ISIL and opposes government regulations to curb greenhouse-gas emissions and promote green energy. If elected, Pataki said he would cut the federal work force by 15 percent through repealing the Affordable Care Act, ending Common Core, and curbing the “overreach” of the Environmental Protection Agency. He also wants to start the federal tax code from scratch.

That that’s it for this week’s GOP presidential candidate announcements. Pataki most likely won’t win, but he’ll create an interesting dialog. Next week, watch for Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC) and former Texas governor Rick Perry to join the eight GOP presidential candidates.

June 10, 2013

Political Civil War in the U.S.

Conservative Republicans want to shut down government—except for all the benefits they get from Social Security, Medicare, etc. According to Robert Reich, they’ve succeeded. “No jobs agenda. No budget. No grand bargain on the deficit. No background checks on guns. Nothing on climate change. No tax reform. No hike in the minimum wage. Nothing so far on immigration reform.”

The third leg of the government stool to support people has been broken. The branch designed to create law has disappeared, leaving only the sequester that destroys both the country’s infrastructure and limits national defense. Control has moved to the states which have become more and more mono-partied, politically speaking. Both the legislatures and governor’s offices have one-party control in 37 states, 24 GOP and 13 Dem. Only a dozen states are split, and Nebraska claims to have a non-partisan legislature. Obviously, the blue states stay moderate or move left while red states pull in the opposite direction.

In blue Minnesota, hikes in the top income tax rate, increased cigarette taxes, and elimination of some corporate tax loopholes resulted in funding for better education and economic development. Early-childhood education has expanded, and state universities have frozen tuition costs. The state budget deficit has shrunk. Similar success has occurred in California, Colorado, and Maryland. California actually has a budget surplus.

In bright-red Kansas, the higher-education budget was cut by almost five percent, and Gov. Sam Brownback—who occasionally considers running for U.S. president—wants to repeal state income tax and replace it with an increase in sales tax to shift taxes from the wealthy to the middle class and poor. North Carolina millionaires are close to saving $12,500 a year, as sales taxes on electricity and other services for the poor will be raised. Missouri has shaved 50 percent from its transportation budget from five years ago.

Social issues are equally split. Twelve states and the District of Columbia legalized marriage equality, and two states made recreational marijuana use legal. Red states are clamping down on abortions even more; in Alabama, a woman has to wait longer to get an abortion than to buy a gun. Blue states have made it harder to buy a gun, while red states have relaxed laws. In Texas, it’s legal to shoot someone who’s committing a “public nuisance” in the dark, for example, maybe someone spray-painting a highway underpass.

Health care is split between red and blue states because conservative states are refusing to accept over $8 billion in federal funding for Medicaid, with the feds picking up almost the entire health care tab for the poor.

There was a time when the term “one nation” in the Pledge of Allegiance had meaning, but no longer. The wealthy will move to states that give them the greatest advantages while the poor may move to ones that provide better services. It’s literally a race to the bottom.

Despite the attempt of blue states to provide safety to their residents, the spillover from red states allowing anyone to buy guns—even felons and the mentally ill—means that these weapons will end up in states with background checks and other restrictions. States that provide good public education may find these young people moving to cheaper states after graduation.

Minorities are also losing any ability to elect government representatives. The term “states’ rights” has included the attempts of whites to oppress voting for blacks. Red states can allow white supremacists to control voting districts that eliminate the voting power of minorities.

The control of the destructive Tea Party concerns even moderate to conservative GOP members. In Oklahoma, the state legislators’ response to a tornado killing 24 people and destroying millions of dollars of property was to defund Planned Parenthood. GOP state Rep. Doug Cox answered this action with an op-ed piece asking whether his Republican colleagues live in “the real world.”  As a medical doctor, he mourns the fact that his GOP colleagues fail to understand the importance of family planning:

“I cannot convince my Republican colleagues that one of the best ways to eliminate abortions is to ensure access to contraception. A recent attempt by my fellow lawmakers to prevent Medicaid dollars from covering the ‘morning after’ pill is a case in point. Denying access to this important contraceptive is a sure way to increase legal and back-alley abortions. Moreover, such a law would discriminate against low-income women who depend on Medicaid for their health care.

“But wait, some lawmakers want to go even further and limit everyone’s access to birth control by allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for contraception.

“What happened to the Republican Party that I joined? … What happened to the Republican Party that felt that the government has no business being in an exam room, standing between me and my patient? Where did the party go that felt some decisions in a woman’s life should be made not by legislators and government, but rather by the women, her conscience, her doctor and her God?”

The conservatives have become so obstructive that they labeled former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) as leftist during the hearings for his appointment to Secretary of Defense. They only accepted Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) as the new Secretary of State because they thought they could replace him with a Republican, a decision to determined by a special election on June 25.

Who does the president have to nominate to avoid these internecine wars in the Senate for appointment? Or who can’t he appoint? Here are a few individuals destined for GOP rejection:

Thomas Jefferson: “I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”

Barry Goldwater: Objections to this person crediting with inspiring modern conservatism would be that he supported LGBT rights, abortion, and, later on, denunciations of the religious right. From time to time, he also defended President Bill Clinton.

Santa Claus: Conservatives would hate the fact that he gives away “free stuff.”

Ronald Reagan: His record of backing moderate immigration policies and championing union rights would make him anathema to the GOP. He also supported gun control and pulled U.S. troops from Lebanon, making him rife for accusations of “cutting and running” from terrorists.

Mitt Romney: The New York Times reported about his “administration relentlessly scour(ing) the tax code for loopholes.” Even corporate tax loopholes. His health care act was also the model for Obamacare, considered by the GOP as socialism or Nazism.

Dwight D. Eisenhower: In a speech soon before he left the presidency after two terms, he warned the nation about the threat to a democratic government—”the immense military establishment” joined with “a large arms industry.” His concern was that this military-industrial complex would take resources from other areas such as building hospitals and schools. He also said, “We must learn how to compose differences not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose.”

Dick Cheney: As defense secretary, he oversaw the last big push for cutting the defense budget and derided neocons, claiming that invading Baghdad and occupy Iraq would cause the United States to be mired in an unwinnable “quagmire.” Conservatives probably won’t notice that he got over this attitude as leader of the free world during George W. Bush’s two terms.

Theodore Roosevelt: Conservatives would see him as a radical environmentalist who attacks property rights because, according to the National Park Service, “Roosevelt used his authority to protect wildlife and public lands by creating the U.S. Forest Service and establishing 51 Federal Bird Reservations, 4 National Game Preserves, 150 National Forests, 5 National Parks, and enabling the 1906 American Antiquities Act which he used to proclaim 18 National Monuments.” He protected—or as Republican senators would claim, “socialized”—230 million acres of public land.

Jesus Christ: Conservatives would oppose him for many reasons, including support for peace, belief that the meek inherits the Earth, criticism of the right, advocacy for the poor, willingness to change water into wine without a profit, giving free healthcare to those in need, and opposition to free market economics.

God: He would be viewed as a Big Government ideologue. Just consider the Fourth Commandment (“Remember the Sabbath Day”) and the Eighth and Tenth (orders against stealing and coveting) as violations of free market capitalism.

Major polls out a couple of weeks ago, however, show a growing distaste for the Republican party: support is up to 52 percent for Democrats and unfavorable opinions of Republicans is up to 59 percent. The GOP standing is at its third-lowest point since CNN started polling on this issue twenty years ago. Asked whether Congress is concentrating on issues important personally, 43 percent said Democrats have the correct priorities while only 33 percent said the same about Republicans.

President Obama’s approval rating continues to rise. And these polls were taken after Republican legislators tried to smear him with their manufactured scandals of Benghazi, the IRS, and the AP reporter subpoenas.

Now the GOP hopes that the leaks about the National Security Administration collecting metadata on everyone will drop the president’s ratings. They might want to remember that the GOP initiated this problem.

August 20, 2012

Moderate Conservatives Drink the Kool-Aid

The closer we get to this year’s general election—78 days at last count—the “moderate” Republicans start to drink the Kool-Aid and buy into the talking points that their party leaders spit out. One example is a columnist for Portland’s The Oregonian, Elizabeth Hovde, whose yesterday’s column began by extolling Rep. Paul Ryan, VP nominee, for his youth before leading into the standard Fox lies regarding the supposed virtue of the GOP.

Hovde is a complex person. Even before she had a skiing accident 18 months ago and spent a few weeks in a coma, she showed a liberal side. For example, one of her early columns supported the Lilly Ledbetter Act to give women a right to sue for fair pay. In another she wrote, “Health care needs to be a right rather than a privilege. It makes no sense to offer fire protection, police services and a K-12 education to citizens while denying basic life care to people.”

Most recently, she agreed that the Supreme Court decision that requiring minor children convicted of murder to die in prison is “cruel and unusual punishment.” She also accepts marriage equality and opposes charging women more for health insurance than men.

In the past, she has been open about the results of her traumatic brain injuries (TBI). She has written that one cognitive change after TBI is “problems with judgment.” She certainly showed poor judgment in her most recent column.

One of Hovde’s claims is that “social issues … are no longer center-staging mainstream Republican agendas.” Obviously, she ignored all the anti-abortion bills that rolled through the House in the past 18 months, possibly because she was recuperating during half that time. Almost nine months ago Ryan supported the Sanctity of Life Act, a bill stating that “human life shall be deemed to begin with fertilization.”

As recently as June, the House tried to pass an anti-abortion for Washington, D.C. but failed. This was the month after all except seven Republican House representatives voted in favor of a bill imposing fines and prison terms on doctors who perform abortions to control the child’s gender. The “war on women” during the past year has also featured the Republicans’ outrage at women getting free contraception after the Catholic bishops riled up the GOP faithful. The Republican party platform also calls for constitutional amendments prohibiting abortion and legalizing personhood.

LGBT rights is another front-and-center social issue of the GOP. House Majority Speaker John Boehner leads the charge to maintain DOMA, the 1996 law that prevents marriage equality by spending $1.5 million from tax payers on lawsuits—and that’s before the case goes to the Supreme Court. Mitt Romney has promised to overturn the law that allows lesbians and gays to openly serve in the military.

Republicans also push school vouchers to the extent that they would eradicate non-religious schools. In the meantime Republicans are intent on allowing prayer—Christian, I’m sure—in all public schools. And they want to also violate the separation of church and state by allowing judges to post the Ten Commandments.

Climate change is another big social issue for Republicans. Because they don’t believe in human-caused climate change, Republicans strive to remove all regulations, ensuring that human influence on the climate destroy the planet. Stop health care, move everyone off welfare, get rid of immigrants—the GOP list goes on and on in the arena of social issues. Young people may be less concerned about social issues, but that isn’t currently the Republican voting base.

When Hovde asked Romney about the lack of young people in the Republican party, he gave the party line: “As they recognize ours is the party dedicated to preserving freedom for ourselves and our friends, … they’ll learn ours is their party.” Part of freedom for me is give women control over our bodies and recognizing marriage equality. These are two freedoms that Republicans are determined to take away from us.

One very annoying statement in Hovde’s column, again straight from Republican lying talking points, is the piece about the top 10 percent of households paying more than half of the federal taxes. As always, her statement suffers from the sin of omission, that the top 10 percent makes almost half the income in the United States. The top 10 percent, as of 2007, controlled 70 percent of the country’s wealth; they can afford to pay 50 percent of the taxes.

Also in 2007, the top 20 percent of households have 85 percent of the assets in the country. Since then, the bottom 80 percent has lost even more to the top tier of wealthy people. If the home is subtracted from the assets, the top 20 percent has 93 percent. I can guarantee that the people who pay “no” taxes, according to the myth that Social Security and Medicare taxes constitute “no” taxes, would be delighted to pay more if they had a salary increase.

Another of Hovde’s statements is that “Obama wants to keep boosting failing systems.” Showing how wrong she is will take an entirely separate column, complete with charts. She also said, “Republicans want to shake things up.” I cannot have any faith in a party with no ideas, that just wants to “shake things up” without providing any benefit to people. Sounds like an earthquake or tsunami to me, and these are disastrous.

A year ago, Hovde wrote about how disadvantaged children of divorce are in their education and personal growth. A few months after that column, her husband left her and their two children, explaining that her accident had taught him that “life is short.” I wish the best for all of them. But I would like to think that Hovde learns about the trials that poverty causes for people no matter how hard they try to act responsibly, as Republicans think all people can do. Unless, of course, she’s lucky enough to have other money to support her.

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!


Rethinking Before Restarting

the way of improvement leads home

reflections at the intersection of American history, religion, politics, and academic life

© blogfactory

Genuine news

Civil Rights Advocacy

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Daily News

Quaker Inspired, Evidence Based, Art And Science Of Sustainable Health Plus Success - How To Create Heaven On Earth - Education For Seventh Generation Rainbow Warriors


Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

Rainbow round table news

Official News Outlet for the Rainbow Round Table of the American Library Association

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The Blog

The latest news on and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: