Republican Round-up: Communist, terrorist plots, danger-tampons, and pro-life hypocrisy.

July 13, 2013

Soviet sex-ed, forced transvaginal probes, the ‘rabid radical homosexual agenda‘ and a smear campaign aimed at your opponent because she didn’t have an air conditioning system in her candidacy announcement video; all came together beautifully to form last week’s Republican Round-up. One may wonder if it is possible to get any more crazy Republican news this week. Perhaps last week was a fluke. A one off. As it goes, The Republican Party and its associates cannot go seven days without providing such priceless blogging material. Here are a few reasons from this past week, that the Republicans should never be allowed near a political office:

The Communist, Terrorist-aiding plot to reform immigration:
Ex-Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy, Frank Gaffney is a veteran of extreme, nonsensical, almost child-like Republican rhetoric. In 2003, he famously called on the military to destroy Al-Jazeera. Further, in 2009, he wrote in the Washington Times:

“President Obama on Friday reiterated for the umpteenth time his determination to develop a “new relationship” with the Muslim world. On this occasion, the audience were the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Unfortunately, it increasingly appears that, in so doing, he will be embracing the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood – an organization dedicated to promoting the theo-political-legal program authoritative Islam calls Shariah and that has the self-described mission of “destroying Western civilization from within.”

– Essentially telling America that their President, was sympathetic to Islamic extremism, and Shariah. In fact, not just sympathetic, but giving his Presidential blessing for a Islamic Theocratic coup. Gaffney was displaying his penchant for anti-Obama conspiracy, prevalent on the extreme end of the Republican scale. By 2010, he was convinced that an Islamic Theocratic coup inside the Obama administration had finally taken place, right down to the President’s creative design team:

“…the newly-disclosed redesign of the Missile Defense Agency logo…. As Logan helpfully shows, the new MDA shield appears ominously to reflect a morphing of the Islamic crescent and star with the Obama campaign logo.”

– Gaffney wasn’t the only far-right loon to suggest a secretive Islamist takeover of the US government, by that well known Islamist underhanded tactic of designing logos. No. Our friends over at fair and balanced Fox also jumped on the bandwagon, helpfully misrepresenting the “symbol of Islam” by giving the Turkish flag a 180 degree turn, in order to make it fit with the suggested conspiracy:

missile_20defense_20agency
– It’s funny that Frank Gaffney would even suggest a Presidential Administration appeasing Islamists. It’s not like he was ever part of an Administration that, according to the New York Times, provided:

“…critical battle planning assistance at a time when American intelligence knew that Iraqi commanders would employ chemical weapons in waging the decisive battles of the Iran-Iraq war”.

Or that the President that Gaffney worked for at the time worked with a CIA who helped fund and arm the Mujahadin fighters that eventually became the Taliban; the most ruthless Islamist regime in decades, whom the President sat down with for a cosy chat in the Oval Office. It’s not like that ever happened. From this, we can deduce that assisting violent Islamists is fine, but designing a logo that has a star on it; Islamist takeover of US government.

Onto this week. This week Gaffney went one further. Gaffney claimed that immigration reform was:

“…a product of decades of work by communists determined to consign the GOP to permanent minority status incapable of halting the further radical transformation of America.”

– Decades of work by shadowy communists will consign the GOP to history, rather than the GOPs anti-women, anti-gay rights, anti-immigrant, anti-anything that isn’t old, white, heterosexual, fundamentalist Christian rhetoric and policies. The Right tend to look outwardly to find reasons why they might be failing miserably, rather than inwardly, refusing to ever accept that they may be somewhat responsible for their own woes.
Gaffney goes on to say that immigration reform will:

“…permit terrorists now here to put on the so-called path to citizenship.”

– The Obama Administration, according to Frank Gaffney, is a communist, terrorist, Shariah embracing administration taken over by Islamists.

Tampons; more dangerous than guns.
At committee meetings, when voting, at constituency meetings, Texas legislators have been carrying concealed guns at the Capitol for years. But it isn’t guns Republican Texans are worried about. Whilst the GOP in Texas has spent the past few weeks fighting incessantly to control women, they have also ramped up security in to Senate public gallery in a rather ludicrous/typically Republican fashion. they are told to throw away their tampons, for security purposes, but they’re allowed to keep their guns. Texas Republicans believed women might throw tampons at them, after the vote to restrict women’s rights. But apparently, Texas Republicans don’t believe guns are a threat. To be fair to manic Christian Republicans, female hygiene products are a direct result of Eve disobeying the good Lord, and it’s only right that His representatives on Earth punish women at every possible opportunity; which they’re working tremendously well to achieve.

People in poverty need to have more poverty:
As noted in my article: Stand For Life…. as long as it hasn’t left the womb yet, Republican controlled States appear to be the worst for poverty. In it, I point out:

In Mississippi, child poverty rates are at a shocking 32%, one child or teenager is shot and killed every single week, and infant mortality is higher than anywhere in the country. This, as well as around 60,000 uninsured people living in Mississippi, and yet, Republicans in the State have decided to tackle all of these problems…….. by harshly regulating abortion inducing pills, whilst attempting to make it easier to carry a gun in public. Let’s also not forget that Mississippians still pay their tax dollars toward State murder, through the death penalty.
According to Gallup, in 2009, Mississippi was the most Christian State in America (Vermont is the least religious State, and also, has one of the lowest poverty rates. It is a Democrat State), whilst also being the worst State to raise a child for 24 years.

– So, in an effort to, well, push the most vulnerable into deeper poverty, the Republicans in the House separated food stamp program SNAP from the Farm Bill, in order for the Bill to pass. Traditionally the two are passed together, but with the split, the Republicans pathe the way for deep cuts to Food Stamps, prompting obert Greenstein of the Center For Budget and Policy Priorities to say:

“…would take the SNAP bill farther to the right and make bigger cuts. I worry that it sets the program up for a ceaseless attack over time because it is unauthorized.”

– Ceaseless attacks, because the Farm Bill is locked until 2018, and so funding cannot be altered. SNAP though, is open to be constant cut proposals, like the budget plan proposed by Paul Ryan in which SNAP was subject to an eye watering $135 billion cut, meaning the end of much needed assistance for millions of the most vulnerable. The projected number of SNAP participants in 2019, and so hugely at risk from Paul Ryan’s proposal, in Mississippi (the worst state to raise a child, with child poverty already at 32%), totals around 559,000. This, despite CBPP analysis of the March 2012 reporting that SNAP kept 1.5 million from falling below half of the poverty line in 2011 than any other program.

When the Farm Bill was due to be voted on, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) shouted objection, to silence anyone accusing the GOP of hurting the most vulnerable people. Among them, Gohmert shouted down Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-IL) and Gohmert shouted down Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) as she said:

“Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks in strong opposition to the farm bill rule and the underlying bill because it will increase hunger in America,”

Apparently a 32% child poverty rate isn’t high enough for Republicans.

When babies aren’t babies; when they’re actually babies.
Texas State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg (R) of…

“In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.”

… fame, and author of the anti-women bill in Texas, it turns out has a rather hypocritical record with being ‘pro-life’. In 2007, when asked why she tabled an amendment to an appropriations bill, requiring pregnant women to wait three months before receiving pre, and perinatal care from the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Laubenberg replied:

“But they’re not born yet.”

– According to Rep. Rafael Anchia (D), Laubenberg’s amendment would have kicked 95,000 children out of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Similarly, in 2009, Laubenberg went on to vote against a bill – bipartisan – to increase the number of children covered by CHIP, after it was found that around 1,000,000 children in Texas are uninsured. Laubenberg apparently wishes to make sure a child is born, but has absolutely no quarrel with an impoverished, uninsured child. So, restricting access to healthcare for the mother and fetus before birth, and then restricting access to, well, everything after the baby is born. The Republicans.

That is the state of the Republicans from July 6th, to July 13th 2013.
Another Republican round-up will be available next week, here on Futile Democracy.


Republican Round-up

July 6, 2013

Every week, the extremes of the Republican Party just wont go away. Like a christmas gift you really dislike. You didn’t ask for it, but you can’t take it back, or if you did take it back, you’d get home, and it’d be sat on your kitchen table, to your utter horror. There has been a spectacular array of irritating headlines on offer from the Grand Old Party this week. Here is a quick summary of five of those stories, that caught my attention:

Sex Education is for Soviets:
Louie Gohmert (R-TX) isn’t a stranger to over the top, strange statements to back up political points, as we see with his statement on gun control:

And I pointed out, well, once you make it ten, then why would you draw the line at ten? What’s wrong with nine? Or eleven? And the problem is once you draw that limit ; it’s kind of like marriage when you say it’s not a man and a woman any more, then why not have three men and one woman, or four women and one man, or why not somebody has a love for an animal?

There is no clear place to draw the line once you eliminate the traditional marriage and it’s the same once you start putting limits on what guns can be used, then it’s just really easy to have laws that make them all illegal.

– He managed, effortlessly, to link a slippery slope gun control, to a same-sex marriage slippery slope. That’s impressive by any Republican standard. Not least because it contains two fallacies rolled into one. Both his arguments are the equivalent of: “Well you eat chicken meat, so why not eat human meat?” … completely absurd.

But Gohmert’s obsession with sex didn’t end there. This week he made more wondrous statements, this time on the subject of sex education:

“Mankind has existed for a pretty long time without anyone ever having to give a sex-ed lesson to anybody,”

– This could be used to restrict progress in any subject known to man. Mankind existed for years with slavery, so why not reinstate it? Mankind existed for thousands of years without airplanes and cars, so let’s scrap them. Progress is defined by moving from a primitive stage to a more enlightened stage of human existence. Sex-education, according to Gohmert is fine as it is. It’s not necessary to educate our children. I mean, it isn’t like we’ve had millennia of Patriarchy, sexual oppression, with growing numbers of sexually transmitted diseases whilst an old white man’s womb controlling Republican Party continues to push anti-women sentiment, anti-homosexuality sentiment, anti-contraception sentiment, anti-transgendered sentiment, that absolutely leads to sexual discrimination and bullying in school and beyond and perpetual patriarchy. That’s never happened. Why would we need to educate children away from primitive ideas on sex? Thanks Gohmert.

He goes on to inform us about the time he spent in the Soviet Union:

“I was shocked when they were saying ‘no, the children don’t belong to parents, they belong to the state.’ And if any parent said anything in front of their children negative about the wonderful Soviet Union, then we will take their children away and give them to somebody more deserving. And I just thought how horribly shocking that was, that of course parents were the ones who love the children, not the state. And I thought thank God that we don’t have that in our country.”

– Here, he suggested that sex-ed takes responsibility away from the parents, and places it in the hands of the State. I’m not sure why this only applies to sex-ed, and not, say, geography? And there is no comparison. The purpose of sex-ed is to ensure children have all the available information on their bodies, on contraception, on relationships, on their developments, on the risks and so on. It is not the purpose of sex-ed to take children from their parents, if their parents criticise the President.

The Republican Party: The Party of Poverty.
In my previous article I noted the damage inflicted upon the most vulnerable, when Republicans are in control of the State. In it, I point out:

In Mississippi, child poverty rates are at a shocking 32%, one child or teenager is shot and killed every single week, and infant mortality is higher than anywhere in the country. This, as well as around 60,000 uninsured people living in Mississippi, and yet, Republicans in the State have decided to tackle all of these problems…….. by harshly regulating abortion inducing pills, whilst attempting to make it easier to carry a gun in public.

– Not to be outdone, North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory will sign off on a plan to strip 71,000 long term unemployed people of their unemployment checks. This comes after cutting weekly unemployment benefits by 35%, and repealing an important tax credit for families on the lowest incomes. The extraordinary move to the economic far right was enabled after the Republicans won both chambers of the General Assembly and the Governorship.

This is all possible, because the moment Governor McCrory was elected, the new official appointed Art Pope as State Budget Chief. It’s no great leap to see how the libertarian Pope managed to secure this position, given that, according to The Institute for Southern Studies, Pope (through groups linked to himself) spent $2.2 million on winning 18 out of 22 legislative battles in North Carolina in 2010, spending three quarters of all spending by independent groups in the State that year. The Governor thanked him, by giving Pope free reign to attack whomever he wished; Punishing those who lost their jobs during the recession, further immiserating the lives of the most vulnerable, North Carolina’s Republicans are really trying to challenge Mississippi’s as the winning poverty State. A State that is now privately owned by Art Pope.

On the subject of North Carolina, lawmakers in the State are currently working to suppress minority voting, after the Supreme Court killed the voting rights act. Their proposals include an end to early voting, same-day registration, and a new provision requiring I.D at the polls. All methods to harshly and disproportionately affect African American voters in North Carolina, who tend to vote Democrat.

The GOPs horrifying War on Women:
In a previous article I referred to a number of attacks over the years on women, committed by GOP lawmakers in their continued war on women. This week, Republican Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker took it one step further. Walker signed into law a Bill that forces a woman who wishes to have an abortion, to have a transvaginal ultrasound, for no medical purpose, whether they want it or not. Walker is quite literally asking for Republican politics to be inserted into a woman. Talia Frolkis, a young pro-choice activist in Wisconsin said:

“That’s part of the reason this is so important to me. It is a violation. It is unnecessary penetration, and for some women who are seeking abortions because they’ve been violated already, it’s just going to repeat the trauma.”

– The anti-women attacks by the Republican Party are becoming darker by the day. They are a Party that believe it less intrusive to insist on a vaginally probing a rape victim, than checking the credentials of would-be gun owners. Nothing says “small government” like a Republican Governor insisting that pregnant women have a piece of metal inserted into them without their full approval. Every time a woman in Wisconsin is forced to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound without medical reason, and without her actually wanting to undergo it….. Scott Walker and the Republicans of Wisconsin should be guilty in all of our eyes of sexual assault.

Beware, the ‘Rabid Radical Homosexual Activist Movement’.
Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia, E.W Jackson is angry this week that his comments on homosexuality have been taken out of context. To recap, in the past Jackson said:

“Their minds are perverted, they’re frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally and they see everything through the lens of homosexuality. When they talk about love they’re not talking about love, they’re talking about homosexual sex.”

“Homosexuality is a horrible sin, it poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things that we can think of… It’s an authoritarian, totalitarian spirit.”

– Usually, ambiguity leads to words being taken out of context. The “their minds are perverted, they’re frankly very sick people” and “Homosexuality is a horrible sin, it poisons families, it destroys culture” lines don’t scream ambiguity to me. So, we should really see why Jackson believes his words were taken out of context, and what he really meant. I’m sure we’ll all be surprised by his declarations of love, and compassion:

“I don’t believe that there’s any second-class citizens in Virginia. I don’t treat anybody any differently because of their sexual orientation. But I do think that the rabid, radical homosexual activist movement is really trying to fundamentally change our culture and redefine marriage and do a number of things that I just think are not good at all.”

– In essence, what he’s done here, is cloaked his inherent homophobia behind more creative – but just as unambiguous – language. He’s rephrased the words that were ‘taken out of context‘ to appear less brutal on the surface. He has clearly been told “probably don’t say words like ‘poison’ and ‘they’re frankly very sick’ “. And so he’s omitted the blatantly vicious rhetoric, with slightly more subtle but equally as vicious rhetoric.

In the past, Jackson has suggested that Medicaid is worse than slavery, that LGBT rights groups are worse than the KKK and that President Obama has “Muslim sensibilities“. In summary, E.W Jackson should not be allowed anywhere near a position of power.

Can’t win on merit? Say something that no one has any interest in hearing:
Alison Lundergan Grimes, Democratic Secretary of State of Kentucky has a tough road ahead of her if she is to beat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the 2014 Senate race. McConnell is ruthless, he’s very wealthy, and very negative. He is not a good person. As noted in a previous article, McConnell is loyal to the interests of big business and those who donate to his considerable wealth. In it, I note:

“A couple of years back, McConnell attacked Democrat attempts to prevent foreign companies from financing US public figures and elections. He claimed laws already exist to stop this from happening. He of course failed to mention that existing laws do not prevent foreign corporations with US subsidiaries from channelling money to preferred candidates. This omittance shouldn’t come as too much of a shock, given that McConnell, from 2005 to 2010, received around $21,000 from BAE Systems Inc. BAE Systems Inc is a US subsidiary of the World’s 2nd largest defence contractor, BAE Systems, based in the UK. In 2010, McConnell asked for $17,000,000 of Federal funds to be earmarked for BAE defence improvements, at the exact same time as BAE was under State Department investigation for alleged widespread corruption (including the bribery of public officials). Of course, any link between McConnell’s apparent passion for outspokenly opposing campaign finance regulation from foreign companies who are under investigation for bribing public officials, at the same time as one of them is funding his own campaign – and in fact funding the Mitch McConnell Centre at the University of Louisville to the tune of $500,000 through a subsidiary – is just speculation.”

– Though, McConnell, as of April was only leading Grimes by 4 points according to Public Policy Polling, he is likely to pull out all the dirty tricks at his disposal to make sure he retains his long held seat for the State of Big Business Kentucky. And he’s already begun. Soon after Grimes announced her plans to run against McConnell, his team released this video. Perhaps it might contain his policy plans? Perhaps it might contain his record in office working for Kentuckians? No. Instead, it attacks Grimes, already, for not having a campaign banner and, oddly, having no air conditioning in the room.

Grimes not having air conditioning, pales in comparison to McConnell’s very dirty tricks McConnell has used to ensure Federal dollars keep flooding into the pockets of his donors. McConnell lead all but five Senators, in 2012, to kill the Veteran’s jobs bill, designed to provide training and jobs to Veterans. Similarly in 2012, McConnell lead a Senate filibuster movement to block the “Repeal Big Oil Subsidies Act”, an Act that offers tax breaks to big oil, to the tune of $24bn. Unsurprisingly, McConnell received $131,500 from oil donors in Midland, Texas.
I hope the Grimes team can make issue out of where exactly Mitch McConnell’s loyalties lie.

The Republican platform can be summed up thusly: Those without money have too much and need less. Those with money have too little and need more. Every policy can be attributed to that summation of Republican ideals. The GOP war cry of “Take back America” is sounding more and more like “Take back America….. by about 60 years” every day.


#StandForLife…. as long as it’s not left the womb yet.

July 3, 2013

poverty-creators

A sudden flurry of twitter activity around the #StandForLife trend, took my interest yesterday. The trend is in support of Texas House Bill 2, the Abortion Regulations Bill. I searched long and hard for any sign of anyone actually standing up for the life of a child once he or she had been born. Imagine my surprise when I failed to notice any mention of promoting universal healthcare, or well funded child care, or an emphasis on fighting child poverty, or a campaign to end the death penalty, or increased spending on education rather than weapons, or restrictions of guns. It would appear that #StandForLife simply means, protect a fetus; but when it’s born, it’s on its own, and should probably get a gun.

In a wonderful fit of ironic “freedom“, some were suggesting a fetus should have Constitutional rights, but then lose those rights, if they grow up to be gay:

Untitled-2

Others didn’t understand why discarding cells from a womb and protecting a woman’s health, isn’t treated the same as a word that has around 300 years of violent slave related, human rights abusing context behind it:

Untitled-1
– It really was another flurry of mad conservative overly dramatic preaching.

For those calling themselves ‘pro-life’ or insisting that they’re standing in protection of human life, they would do themselves great credit to note that universal healthcare, in every country it is permitted, works. And it tends to work far better, for far cheaper, for the majority of the population. Pro-lifers first big battle should be a system of healthcare that works for all. If we take the examples of the US with its private healthcare system, and the UK with its national healthcare system, we note some key differences, according to the World Health Organisation:

UK Life expectancy at birth m/f (years): 79/82
US Life expectancy at birth m/f (years): 76/81

UK Probability of dying under five (per 1 000 live births): 5
US Probability of dying under five (per 1 000 live births): 8

UK Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years m/f (per 1 000 population): 91/57
US Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years m/f (per 1 000 population): 131/77

UK obesity rates (2013): 23%
UK obesity rates (2013): 30.6%

UK Total expenditure on health per capita (Intl $, 2011): 3,322
US Total expenditure on health per capita (Intl $, 2011): 8,608

UK Total expenditure on health as % of GDP (2011): 9.3
US Total expenditure on health as % of GDP (2011): 17.9

We should also note that the 9.3% of GDP the UK spends on healthcare, is enough to cover 100% of the people. By contrast, the 17.9% of GDP the US spends on healthcare, covers around 30% of the people. So, as of 2011, the US healthcare market was far less efficient than the UKs socialised healthcare system. It costs the government more, it costs people more, whilst life expectancy is lower, and there’s a higher risk of your child dying early, under the US system. It helps that that UK also has much stronger primary care, which is known to reduce healthcare costs overall. The US is especially good at late stage intervention. 13.7% of Americans were uninsured when Clinton left office in 2000; compared with 15.4% when Bush left office.
If you were to #StandForLife in the US, you would be advocating a universal healthcare system, opposing all Republican suggestions.

Republicans create poverty. Especially among children. Child poverty in the US is getting worse. The percentage of children living in a household earning less than 50% of the national average, was at 21.4% as of 2011. The lowest, is Denmark, at 2.4%. The UK is at 16.2%. In fact, from 2001, to 2009, the Bush years, child poverty rose by almost 6% in the US. Republicans care about life, before it is born. The moment it is born, they plunge you into poverty. That of course isn’t too much of a shock, given that Bush’s wealthy tax breaks resulted in the median income falling from $52,500 in 2000 (inflation adjusted) to $50,303 in 2008. In 2000, 31.6 million Americans were living in poverty. When Bush left office, 39.8 million were in poverty.
During the 2012 ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations, the House Republicans passed 39.8 million DOA Plan B 215-209-1. This Bill didn’t make it to the Senate, but its interesting to note that the proposal from Boehner, included throwing 300,000 children off of food stamps, whilst the Tax Policy Center found that the same proposal offered an average $108,000 tax cut for millionaires, in a typical Republican move to redistribute wealth upwards, whilst endangering and impoverishing the lives of children. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted that the Republican plan results in:

“…a mother with two children who works full time at the minimum wage of $7.25 and earns $14,500 a year would lose $1,560 of her Child Tax Credit, which would plummet from $1,725 to $165.”

Republicans in the House, we know, are pushing forward attempts at deep and harmful cuts to education funding, to help protect spending on defence. In May, House Republicans proposed a 6% rise in Department of Defence spending, whilst proposing a cap for Labour, Education, and HHS at $121.8; about $28bn lower than expected. Children hit again by a Republican obsession with spending cuts for those who need it the most, whilst proposing tax breaks for those who need it least.

In Tennessee, Republican state Sen. Stacey Campfield introduced a bill in January that would limit welfare payments to families, based on a child’s performance at school. Essentially, do your homework, or we rich people are going to starve you. Interestingly, Senators and Representatives monthly wage isn’t dependent on their performance in government. They will eat whether they succeed in anything of any substance, or not.
If those on welfare in Tennessee have a child who skips school, they already get 20% of their welfare cut. Campfield wishes to add an extra 30% if the child isn’t performing to his standard.

Republicans dominate the State of Mississippi, they hold the Senate seats, and three of the four US House seats. And yet, voting a pro-life Party has done nothing but keep Mississippi at the very bottom of the list of worst possible States for children to live, according to Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Index. It has remained at the bottom for 24 years. Though this year, it was overtaken by another red State; New Mexico. In fact, the bottom five States for child wellbeing in the US, are Republican controlled. All five States, coincidentally, passed ‘Right to Work’ anti-union laws, pushing poverty up horrendously, whilst enriching the wealthiest. It isn’t a war on poverty, it is a war on the poor.

In Mississippi, child poverty rates are at a shocking 32%, one child or teenager is shot and killed every single week, and infant mortality is higher than anywhere in the country. This, as well as around 60,000 uninsured people living in Mississippi, and yet, Republicans in the State have decided to tackle all of these problems…….. by harshly regulating abortion inducing pills, whilst attempting to make it easier to carry a gun in public. Let’s also not forget that Mississippians still pay their tax dollars toward State murder, through the death penalty.
According to Gallup, in 2009, Mississippi was the most Christian State in America (Vermont is the least religious State, and also, has one of the lowest poverty rates. It is a Democrat State), whilst also being the worst State to raise a child for 24 years. Which renders tweets like this, rather ironic:

cruz
– Ironic on several counts. Firstly, for the reference to Christianity, at a time when the most Christian States tend to have the highest rates of child poverty. But also, because it’s coming from Ted Cruz. A US Senator from Texas, who voted against affordable University education for students, with the Student Loan Affordability Act, against regulations for assault weapons, against background checks for guns, against limiting firearm magazine capacity, sponsored limiting funds for people with pre-existing conditions, against the Violence against Women Act (so your child is a ‘gift from God and deserves to be protected’, until she is born), and against the Sandy relief fund and disaster relief. It is almost impossible for one man to be more anti-women, and anti-life than Senator Cruz.

#StandForLife is a soundbite. It sounds far more attractive, loving, and respectable than the truth, which is simply Republicans, under the banner of “individual Liberty”, wishing to control as many people (mainly women) as they possibly can, whilst enriching themselves in the process.

If you were to truly #StandForLife in the US, you would never vote Republican again.


The Elephant in the Womb

June 25, 2013

If the Republican Party left 2012 hoping to start afresh – following a President election defeat that quite comically they were certain that they’d win – in an attempt to broaden their base, inclusive of both the Hispanic community, and women that abandoned them in huge numbers; by mid 2013, they’ve failed horrifically on both of those counts.

As noted yesterday, in my article on immigration reform, the obvious attempts by a few outspoken Republicans to put a halt on legalising 11,000,000 undocumented workers only works to narrow their base even further. They appear wholly antagonistic, when they need to be appearing far more inclusive. It seems they’ve learnt nothing in past seven months.
67 votes in the Senate yesterday secured proceeding with the immigration bill on the basis of the Border security amendment.

Today, the focus is on their renewed war on women. The 21st Century Republican Party appears to be based on one simple sentence: “Get Government out of everything (except a woman’s womb)“. Yesterday, Republicans in the Texas State House of Representatives cowardly voted to restrict access to abortion by 97-33 on an anonymous Bill made up of past Bills that had failed in the House during the regular session. The Senate had already passed the Bill, but the Amendment to restrict access to abortion was added at the last minute by House Republicans. The Bill was voted on and passed at 3:23am. It must now return to the Senate. Cries of ‘Shame on you’ could be heard as the Bill was passed in the dead of night by cowardly Theocrats.

State Democratic Senators have today announced they will filibuster the vote in the Senate until Midnight tonight, when the session officially ends. If that happens, Governor Perry, a pro-life advocated, but on whose watch 250 people have been killed by the State’s death penalty, which he so shamefully boasted of during the Primary debates, could call for a special session of the Legislature to take place, for further discussion of the Bill. We shouldn’t be surprised if he does this.

If the Bill were to pass, it would threaten the running of abortion clinics across the State. Many may close. Again, Republicans promoting very dangerous anti-women policies.

The bill to restrict safe access to abortion is quite obviously not the first time Republicans have taken aim at women. It is a growing trend for the GOP. We see the nature of the debate on abortion from the right winged fringes, when presented with campaign literature like this:
babies-guns
– I’m not even sure what he’s suggesting here? Give guns to cells? Maybe just a knife to sperm, in an attempt to stop masturbation? Linking guns and children probably isn’t the most sensitive of campaign slogans the Republicans have ever came up with. But then, ‘National Association for Gun Rights’ and ‘Gun Owners of America’ are two of Stockman’s key campaign contributors, so it shouldn’t surprise us.

Stockman goes one further. He doesn’t just take aim at women, but also the transgendered community, and why he believes the Violence Against Women Act should not include them:

“This is a truly bad bill. This is helping the liberals, this is horrible. Unbelievable. What really bothers—it’s called a women’s act, but then they have men dressed up as women, they count that. Change-gender, or whatever. How is that—how is that a woman?”

Similarly, in 2010 Medina County Republicans put out a leaflet that included this little gem:
bettysutton

It isn’t just Republican men that are obsessed with both patronising, and controlling women. Republican women seem to be just as awful. Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO) wants to recruit women to the Republican cause in 2014. She says:

“Women need to be asked. They have to be told of the opportunity and be encouraged to run.”

– That’s right! Women need to be told of the fact that they can run for public office. Really slowly. So the pretty things can understand. Perhaps their minds are too filled with getting dinner ready for the man of the house, in between thinking of kittens and flowers.

Ann Coulter, reflecting a general Republican anti-women stance once said:

“If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president. It’s kind of a pipe dream, it’s a personal fantasy of mine, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. ”

– Even female Republicans, are anti-women. Some, cloak their inherent anti-women sentiment, behind creative, and horrendously offensive statements. The level of debate in the Texas House of Reps can be summed up quite wonderfully, by the statement of State Rep. Jodie Laudenberg (R):

“In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits, where a woman can get cleaned out,”

– Cleaned out? Really? That’s what you’re going with? Let’s also not forget that beyond the horrendous sentiment, she’s also entirely wrong. A ‘rape kit’ is used primarily to collect evidence, it isn’t used to perform an abortion. She is using the issue of rape, in order to pass an amendment, by blatantly lying.

A couple of days ago, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) stated that problems with the US education system began, when women started working outside of the home.

During the debate, Texas Congressman Michael Burgess (R) told us we should ban abortion, because fetuses cannot stop masturbating:

“Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful … They stroke their face. If they’re a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to believe that they could feel pain?”

– What’s most worrying about this, isn’t the level of stupidity that public debate has seemingly fallen to, but the fact that Burgess is a doctor of obstetrics and gynecology. Here is what the GOP would call an expert in their ranks, on the subject of reproduction. Would anyone let this man check you over?

It seems pretty obvious, private citizens do not want Republican Senators and Representatives taking ownership of their wombs.

In 2012, Wisconsin voted to repeal the Equal Pay Enforcement Act; a law that helped to address the growing pay gap between men and women. Upon repeal, Republican State Senator Glenn Grothman said:

“You could argue that money is more important for men. I think a guy in their first job, maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday, may be a little more money-conscious.”

And then we have the mouthpiece of mad, ranting, misogynistic, Tea Party Republicans, Rush Limbaugh. When it comes to women, Limbaugh said:

“So Miss Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

– Wealthy, white, conservative, male attitudes to women are simply a reactive response against a growing modern, progressive, liberal inclusive culture that they very much dislike, because it threatens their unjustifiably privileged position in life. Whether they’re consciously aware of that or not. We can attach this reactive response to almost every group conservatives take aim at. They are a threat to privilege, and Republicans are the protectors of archaic and regressive privilege.

Republicans apparently agree with Rush, given their 2011 attempts to not just cut levels of funding to, but completely cut Title X. Title X offers family planning funding and services including breast and cervical cancer screenings and preventative healthcare to millions of low income women and families. The Republicans, not content with trying to cut Title X entirely in 2011, then sought to ban Title X funds reaching the Planned Parenthood Program. A program that also offers: contraceptives; emergency contraception; screening for breast, cervical and testicular cancers; pregnancy testing and pregnancy options counseling; testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases; comprehensive sexuality education, menopause treatments; vasectomies, tubal ligations, and abortion. Naturally, because of the last in that list, the Republicans believe Planned Parenthood deserves no funding whatsoever, for any of its services. Some States have already completely defunded Planned Parenthood, including Tennessee, despite no State money going to support Planned Parenthood abortions. In Wisconsin, nine of the State’s 27 Planned Parenthood clinics were completely defunded by State Republican legislatures. The nine clinics provided 12,000 uninsured women with low cost, and easily accessible health care. The Women’s Health Program in Texas receives 90% of its funding from Planned Parenthood… Texan lawmakers reduced its funding from $111 to $37. Wealthy State Republicans took that away. And they ask themselves why women have a problem with Republicans?

In 2011, Republicans also wished to cut funding to The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. A program designed to help low income mothers, and pregnant women. Despite WIC funding leading to lower infant mortality, and higher birth weights, the GOP are unhappy with it, and demanded a cut of $747 million. This, alongside a $50 million cut to the Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grant, which helps millions of impoverished and low income women and children every year. That’s not all. They demanded a $1 billion cut to Head Start, $39 million from Child Care Development Block Grant. 368,000 estimated to lose learning support in their early years, along with those mothers who rely on child care, in order to work.

When political and religious ideologies are used to not just tell others, but force others to live their lives according to that ideology, and especially when it pertains to that individual’s body, your Party cannot then claim to be a Party dedicated to individual liberty. You are a Party dedicated to control.

From Mitt’s “binders full of women” to Akin’s “legitimate rape” to Chambliss almost whimsically shaking off the seriousness of sexual assault in the military by claiming it’s simply down to young men’s “hormone level created by nature“, to the anti-women bills and underfunding of important health services; the GOP really has a problem. It isn’t just the perception that they are anti-women. They can’t just ‘re-brand’ and hope people will forget. The things they say and do, are so blatantly anti-women, that there is no other possible perception. The GOP has an extremely long road ahead of it if it wishes to be an electable force again. At the moment, an all out, relentless attack on women’s health and reproductive rights, renders the GOP the same fringe Party of mad bigots that it was before the Presidential election.


The frivolity of Prime Minister’s Questions.

September 7, 2011

There were laughs reverberating around the hall of the House of Commons today as Tory MP Nadine Dorries asked “Will the Prime Minister show the Deputy Prime Minister, who is the boss?” She raised the issue in conjunction with NHS reforms. Someone should inform Dorries that no one in the Country actually gave permission for these NHS reforms (when I say no one, I obviously exclude John Nash over at Care UK).

On a side note, for those who do not know Nadine Dorries, she attempted to prevent abortion providers giving NHS funded counselling to women, under that famous Tory justification-of-the-disgusting as “patient choice”. The amendment to the Health Bill, seeks to force the NHS to provide “independent” counselling to women seeking an abortion. The worry is, this opens the door for faith based groups to provide counselling to pregnant women. This isn’t beyond the realm of possibility, given that Dorries other anti-abortion campaign in 2008, was funded by Christian Concern for our Nation. This is a Christian fundamentalist group, who believe any kind of pro-equality legislation for homosexuality, is anti-Christian legislation. Here is what their site says:


Sexual orientation is being given increasing protection under equality legislation. Unfortunately this has led to serious consequences for Christians.

Here is its EDL style fear tactics, on Islam:

From the introduction of Sharia law and Islamic finance to the implications on freedom of speech and women’s rights, the presence of Islamism in the UK has great repercussions for all of us.

– They seem to be under the impression that the introduction of entirely Christian fundamental values is a wonderful thing, but any other religious fundamentalists must be great evils. I want neither. They also seem to be under the impression that we have a country controlled by Sharia and Islamic finance. How odd.
They have arguments against the scrapping of the Blasphemy laws (we genuinely still had blasphemy laws up until 2008 …… not 1534……2008!) on their site. They are shocked that anyone would support the scrapping of Blasphemy Laws. Speaking on the site, Andrea Williams defends the Blasphemy laws because they protect against “strident criticism” of God. That it protects against “sexual assaults against Jesus Christ. Making sexual overture towards Christ”…. sounds similar to the way Muslims reacted to the drawings of Mohammed…irrational, and dangerous. After much of what i’ve wrote on this blog, I guess if the laws were still in place, I could be prosecuted for it.
Anyway, This is who funds Dorries campaigns. That is who Dorries is.

Today, MPs voted overwhelmingly against it, and rightfully so. After such a crushing defeat, Dorries said:

“Actually, it was the most tremendous success. We lost the battle but we won the war”.

– One recalls Tariq Aziz in 2003, as the Ba’athist regime in Iraq crumbled, insisting that victory was imminent.

The laughs were justifiably aimed at the pointlessness of the question, and Cameron’s absolutely correct refusal to answer it, but to me it highlighted two problems:

I) Nadine Dorres has simply amplified growing concern on the Tory benches that the Lib Dems are diluting the message of Conservatism. This Blog by Conservative home echoes similar sentiments. It is vastly misguided in its anger. They seem unable to grasp the concept of not winning an election. They did not pass the post. They did not get a majority. They do not have a mandate to initiate deeply right winged, Tory principles. If the Deputy Prime Minister were to be suddenly struck down with a conscience, and said “We are not voting for anything you put forward any more“, the “boss” would appear incredibly impotent. The Country did not choose one boss or one Party. We did not elect a Tory government. We elected a mixture. Doubtlessly Nadine Dorres is simply annoyed with Clegg’s refusal to back her ludicrous religious fundamentalist anti-abortion campaign. What the Tories are doing now it seems, is attempting (as Conservative Home did in the blog I linked to) to use the diluting of Tory policies by Liberal Democrats, as a reason for weak growth. So, that’s the Lib Dems, Europe, the Royal Wedding, Labour’s legacy, and the snow, that the Tories have blamed for weaker than anticipated growth. Even so, the point remains valid; someone needs to tell those like Dorries, who seem to think they have some sort of inherent right to rule, that they didn’t win the election. This is not a Tory Parliament. Even to claim they won the most seats, is fallacious, given that more people voted for slower deficit reduction – Labour/Lib Dem – than voted for the pace now being forced upon us. As far as I can tell, the Lib Dem dilutions aren’t good enough. This is a very very Tory Government. Frustrated about being in Coalition with the Lib Dems? Tough. The public don’t want a very Right Winged government. Either you operate a minority government, or you deal with Coalition. You have no other choice.

One must wonder what the polls would be saying, if the Tories were able to cut even deeper and apply Tory principles where otherwise they are diluted by the Liberals. The Poll from Yougov yesterday, despite Lib Dem dilution, showed that when asked “Thinking about the way the government is cutting spending to reduce the government’s deficit, do you think this is… “
Only 35% said it is good good for the economy. 27% said it is being done fairly and 52% said it is being done too quickly. Even now, having not won the election, they still don’t have a majority of the country agreeing with their policy. They have no mandate. They do not understand this.

II) Prime Minister’s Questions last for thirty minutes every Wednesday. It is a chance for our nationally elected legislature to interrogate the government. Given the rapid nature of change in schooling, the NHS, the struggles facing people who are the victims of deep austerity, the Libyan conflict; It is simply a waste of a question, and a stain upon the fabric of Parliamentary Democracy for an elected representative, who has the opportunity to ask anything at all, to have the nerve to stand up and ask the Prime Minister to bitch slap his Deputy into place. I would have preferred for Cameron to have spent that wasted time laughing at the insanity of Nadine Dorries, instead answering questions about his apparent vast NHS reform support from The Royal College of Nurses, despite their Chief Executive Dr Carter saying recently:

….. we are telling MPs that this Bill risks creating a new and expensive bureaucracy and fragmenting care.
This fragmentation risks making inequalities worse, and preventing health providers from collaborating in the interests of patients. We must avoid a situation where existing NHS providers are left with expensive areas of care while private providers are able to ‘cherry pick’ the services which can be delivered easily.”

– Isn’t the dismantling of the NHS, and the Prime Minister’s refusal to accept the almost universal condemnation of the reforms, far more important to the future of the Country and the people who live in it, than Nadine Dorries personal dislike of Nick Clegg? She should be ashamed of herself to continuing the politics of theatre in a supposedly “honourable” National Legislature.
Shouldn’t we be asking why former Director-General for Commissioning and System Management for the NHS and now “health policy expert” on David Cameron’s personal NHS advisory group said this to a group of Private Healthcare lobbies, organised by private equity firm Apax:

“In future, the NHS will be a state insurance provider not a state deliverer. The NHS will be shown no mercy and the best time to take advantage of this will be in the next couple of years.”

– Doesn’t seem like the Lib Dems are fighting hard enough to me. Heaven knows what the Tories would be pushing for now, had they won a majority in 2010. It is unnerving to think about. Nevertheless, it isn’t a Tory government and so excessively Right Winged policies like that on the NHS, really need to be fully scrutinised during Prime Minister’s Questions.

Dorries isn’t the first. I blogged not long ago, on the subject of Loughborough Tory MP Nicky Morgan asking misleading and futile questions in Parliament, having emailed her to point out her pointlessness. She, oddly, blamed by anger at her helping to bring down the intellectual discourse that we expect from our Parliamentarians…… on my apparent sexism. To this day, I fail to understand her point, and cannot comprehend how someone of that level of stupidity manages to get elected. But it isn’t just restricted to the Tories. Labour and Liberals are just as guilty of weak and frivolous questioning in Parliament. It is one of the very reasons I am thoroughly anti-Lords reform. I do not want a second chamber full of mediocre career politicians trying to score points against each other. I am quite content with an appointed Lords based on merit and expertise. Another House of Commons, would be a disaster. I don’t care if it’s elected. It’s irrelevant. If all we can achieve by the Democratic process in this Country, is a Health Secretary funded entirely by the Private Health sector, and a mad old Christian who spends her time throwing darts at Nick Clegg, then perhaps Democracy isn’t all it is cracked up to be. We expect more from our politicians. It becomes increasingly obvious that people who spend their debate time, taking cheap shots at each other, should be not representing anyone, in any walk of life. They are not worthy of the office of MP.

We are told constantly of the importance of voting. That our ancestors fought for this privilege. Well, Parliamentarians fought civil wars, their brothers and fathers and sons were killed, for the supremacy of Parliament. Parliament must be worthy of our vote, because that is what wars were fought to ensure. Do we really think that the current Parliamentary tussling, complete with childish attacks and needless questions at the expense of serious debate and discourse, is truly worthy of the vote that is apparently so precious? The degradation of Parliament is circular, in that the mediocrity of our career politicians creates an air of ambivalence toward politics and the democratic process. In return, the disinterest of the electorate necessarily creates a system in which it becomes far easier for mediocre career politicians to enter politics. It is almost certainly the reason we need an unelected House of Lords.

Nadine Dorries may have raised a laughable question, but it illustrates a growing disease in Parliament. Prime Ministers Questions is a public arena, for rather bad theatre, than an arena for informed debate and intelligent discourse and holding the most powerful office in the Country to account, and that is a worrying state of affairs.