How to be a Steve Stockman (R-TX) Patriot…

January 29, 2014

Wikimedia Commons. Author - Gage Skidmore.

Wikimedia Commons.
Author – Gage Skidmore.

President Obama played a tactful game at the State of the Union last night. There were subtle digs at the most unproductive Congress in history, but far less than we may have expected given how difficult 2013 had been for the President. The mention of climate change and minimum wage, was a clear message to the Democratic base ahead of the Congressional elections in November. Other that that, there were no surprises from either the President nor the opposition Party. This lack of surprise includes one particular publicity-seeking-prone, disrespectful Republican storming out of the chamber in typically over dramatic Tea Party fashion.

It was halfway through the President’s State of the Union address that Texas’s Steve Stockman left the chamber in a fit of outrage. After his tantrum subsided, Stockman told reporters that he’d stormed out because:

“I could not bear to watch as he continued to cross the clearly-defined boundaries of the Constitutional separation of powers.”

– Stockman often plays fast and loose with his understanding of the Constitution and of the framework of the United States in general. It was Stockman that was so excited to announce that he had invited Ted Nugent to the State of the Union Address, and noted:

“I am excited to have a Patriot like Ted Nugent joining me in the House Chamber to hear from President Obama.”

– Stockman called Nugent a “Patriot”. So then, perhaps you’re wondering what it will take for Steve Stockman to recognise you as a Patriot? Well, let’s investigate what he might mean:

In a 1995 interview, the great ‘Patriot’ Ted Nugent said:

“I’m on top of a real America with working hard, playing hard, white motherfucking shit kickers, who are independent and get up in the morning.”

– When told that African Americans were just as hard working as white Americans, Nugent said:

“Show me one”

– So that’s the “racist” box checked. In 2012, the ‘Patriot’ Ted Nugent offered his thoughts on the US civil war, and stopped vastly short of expressing his undying love for the United States in a way you might expect of a Patriot:

“I’m beginning to wonder if it would have been best had the South won the Civil War.”

So, that’s racism, with the nostalgia for the slave owning Confederacy box checked. In 2012, the ‘Patriot’ Ted Nugent said of Democrats:

“Pimps whores & welfare brats & their soulless supporters have a president to destroy America.”

– So far, to be a ‘Patriot’ in Steve Stockman’s World, you must be racist, still bitter that the states fighting to uphold the institution of slavery didn’t win the war, and to dismiss anyone struggling in life as “Pimps, whores and welfare brats”.

Steve Stockman was one of the Congressional Republicans to oppose the reauthorisation of the enormously popular and effective Violence Against Women Act. In explaining his opposition to the reauthorisation, Stockman ridiculously said:

“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?”

– It “helps the liberals” to protect minorities from abuse apparently. So Stockman opposed it. He was willing to put all women at risk, just to make sure we’re all aware that he doesn’t like the transgender community. So, that’s racists, those still bitter that the states fighting to uphold the institution of slavery didn’t win the Civil war, those who dismiss anyone struggling in life as “Pimps, whores and welfare brats”, and those who don’t understand biology and wish to continue to manifest that ignorance through bigotry and physical abuse.

In 2013, Stockman tweeted this little gem of wisdom:

babies-guns
– Apart from the threatening and insensitive absurdity of this hideous slogan, we should perhaps note that ‘National Association for Gun Rights’ and ‘Gun Owners of America’ are two of Stockman’s key campaign contributors, so this shouldn’t surprise us. This is a clear message to women everywhere that Stockman believes a woman’s body is not her own, and that Stockman is willing to use the most vicious language possible to make that point.

So, that’s racists, those still bitter that the states fighting to uphold the institution of slavery didn’t win the Civil war, those who dismiss anyone struggling in life as “Pimps, whores and welfare brats”, those who don’t understand biology and wish to continue to use their ignorance to abuse anyone that doesn’t match their own very narrow World view, and those who wish to restrict women’s health rights by using threatening language.

The First Lady’s guests at the State of the Union last night included Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman; two survivors of the Boston bombs. By contrast, only four days after the the bombing, Stockman tweeted:

Screen-Shot-2013-04-19-at-5.20.47-PM
– An indescribably insensitive tweet, especially by a member of the United States Congress, at a time when citizens were being treated for the most horrific injuries, families had lost loved ones, and neighbourhoods in the region had undergone such an awful event. But he’s not new to such an insensitive publicity stunt….

Just a short few months after the Sandy Hook tragedy, Stockman tweeted this:

stockmangun
– You read that correctly. He raffled off the same make gun as the one used by Adam Lanza to murder children, if you signed up to his website. The obscenity of Stockman’s publicity stunt here is incomprehensible.

So, that’s racists, those still bitter that the states fighting to uphold the institution of slavery didn’t win the Civil war, those who dismiss anyone struggling in life as “Pimps, whores and welfare brats”, those who don’t understand biology and wish to continue to use their ignorance to abuse anyone that doesn’t match their own very narrow World view, those who wish to restrict women’s health rights by using threatening language, and those who believe it appropriate for a United States member of Congress to publicly joke about a terrorist attack four days after it took place, and raffling off the same type of gun used in the murder of children, for publicity.

Next to the gun lobby, Stockman is well funded by the oil industry, with Exxon a particular favourite contributor. So it’s no surprise that Stockman – member of the House Energy subcommittee and the House Environment subcommittee – would say this:

stockman
– He could have chosen the mountains of the Himalayas, or the Shenandoah Valley, or the misty and beautiful Vietnamese coastline, or the Scottish highlands, or the stunning rainforests of Brazil, or the diverse wildlife of the Serengeti. Instead, Stockman’s favourite thing about the beautiful planet that we inhabit, is finding oil. And when we do find oil, and it results in a massive leak near Santa Barbara of almost three million gallons, which in turn kills wildlife for miles around and threatens local habitats even further a field, Stockman then gets annoyed that regulations are introduced in an attempt to stop such abuses by oil companies in the future:

stockman2
– Stockman appears to be confused between the reality of climate change, and his duties as a representative for the oil industry. Pesky scientific fact (there’s around a 97% consensus on the anthropogenic causes of climate change) is naturally a liberal conspiracy, whilst the oil industry…… I suppose must be “Patriots”.

I think we have the definitive guide on how to be a Patriot by Steve Stockman. You must be racist; experiencing great sadness that the slave states didn’t win the civil war; willing to dismiss anyone struggling in life as “Pimps, whores and welfare brats”; you must lack a basic understanding of biology and wish to continue to use that ignorance to abuse anyone that doesn’t match your own very narrow World view; you must wish to restrict women’s health rights by using threatening language; you must believe it appropriate for a United States member of Congress to publicly joke about a terrorist attack four days after it took place, and raffling off the same type of gun used in the murder of children, for publicity; you must see the planet as nothing more than one big playground for Exxon to dig wherever it likes. This is how to be a Patriot by the man who stormed out of the State of the Union last night. If I were the President, I’d be more offended if Stockman had stayed.


The GOP outrage machine: The President’s pies.

November 29, 2013

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: Lawrence Jackson - Official Whitehouse Photographer (White House - Executive Office Of U.S.A. President)

Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Author: Lawrence Jackson – Official Whitehouse Photographer (White House – Executive Office Of U.S.A. President)

After months of shamelessly using the tragedy in Benghazi for political gain that eventually led to no scandal whatsoever, a new scandal took hold. The President was not attending Gettysburg for the 250 year anniversary! When that turned out to be in keeping with every other President since Gettysburg, the Tea Party brigade needed a new scandal. Well, this time, they really outdid all expectations of the crazy we’ve all come to expect; The First Family had NINE pies on their Thanksgiving menu!

For reference, here is the White House Thanksgiving Menu:

Dinner:
Turkey
Honey-Baked Ham
Cornbread Stuffing
Oyster Stuffing
Greens
Macaroni and Cheese
Sweet Potatoes
Mashed Potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Dinner Rolls

Dessert:
Huckleberry Pie
Pecan Pie
Chocolate Cream Pie
Sweet Potato Pie
Peach Pie
Apple Pie
Pumpkin Pie
Banana Cream Pie
Coconut Cream Pie

– Bare in mind, this is the choice. They didn’t eat every single menu item. My fridge and freezer currently contains enough to make about 9 or 10 different dishes that I could put together. This doesn’t mean I will eat all 9 or 10 dishes. It means I have the choice. This is lost on Tea Partiers, who apparently believe that they must order every item that appears on a menu, when they go out to eat, judging by the feigned Twitter outrage below:

Untitled-1
– Only Commies would dare to employ chefs capable of offering nine pies on a menu! For reference, I’d like to know how many pies is synonymous with freedom loving Patriots?

11
– Actually, he might be on to something. Massive war expenditure, and the wealthiest in society choosing not to pay taxes, whilst the most vulnerable are left to suffer? Sounds much like 1789, and the entirety of the Bush White House years. A corporate Versailles.

10

2

3

4
– The over dramatic whinge, we’ve all become so accustomed to hearing from the Tea Party Right.

5
– I don’t think this guy can go any better than this tweet. ‘Lying Pig’ is surely enough?

5b
– Arrogant! of course! AND RANDOM capitalised WORDS for dramatic EFFECT!

8
– What this means to say is, one per GOP-invented, reigned outrage, non-scandal.

9
– YEA…. wait, what?

6
– I believe Trotsky himself insisted that the proletariat could only be victorious in the great class struggle, if they had a menu with more than eight pies on it.

7
– Well, she did make it up a little bit. They had nine on the menu. They didn’t eat nine. They had a choice. Apparently the White House have chefs that are capable of offering several different dishes!

A restaurant I visited recently, had twelve desserts on the menu. It’s a small restaurant, and not once did I consider twelve desserts to be a clear symbol of communism in the UK. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe freedom lovers are fine paying for President Bush’s countless trips to the golf course, but should not be fine with any more than maybe five desserts, six at most on the White House Thanksgiving menu. Perhaps employing chefs willing to cook more than eight pies, is the very epitome of socialism. I have a lot to learn about this freedom loving thing.


Painting Congress Blue 2014: Focus on Candidates VI.

October 28, 2013

justin kuhnle, indiana's 3rd congressional district, marlin stutzman, republicans, democrats, house of representatives 2014, midterms 2014, indiana

There seem to be two conflicting camps of thought on the House elections for 2014. On the one hand, 17 seats is a big majority to overturn. As noted previously, to do so would represent a post-World War II record for the President’s Party. On the other hand, history teaches us that if a Party moves too far to the left or right – as the Republicans most certainly have this year – they will be punished at the mid-terms. Support for House Republicans is at its lowest in decades, and lower than the 1998 House Republicans who lost five House seats and forced the resignation of the Speaker after self-destructively moving to the right over the Clinton/Lewinsky affair. So whilst it remains a very difficult feat in 2014, it isn’t impossible.

Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District:
The government shutdown may have provided Democrats with an opportunity to retake the House in 2014, but the battle is still to be fought uphill.

Indiana’s 3rd is currently home to Rep. Marlin Stutzman, and considered a pretty safe Republican seat for 2014. Though that needn’t be the case, if we shine a light on Stutzman’s antics as Representative.

Stutzman was right at the heart of the government shutdown, for which the public in general blame his rather nihilistic approach. When asked by the Washington Examiner about the Republican led shutdown and what demands the Republicans wanted in order to reopen government, Stutzman replied:

“We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”

– So, whilst voting to ensure the US wipe out at least 0.6% growth to the tune of $24bn (more than the annual GDP of Trinidad and Tobago)…. Rep. Marlin Stutzman had absolutely no idea what it is his Party wanted to gain from such a destructive course. The American people and the people of Indiana’s 3rd were not a concern or priority for Stutzman during the shutdown, the concern was purely Party political and incredibly opportunistic.

This anti-Affordable Care Act stance from Stutzman, despite the fact that key Affordable Care Act findings for Indiana’s households show that every household income bracket, other than those earning over $250,000 a year, will be better off in five years time due to the Affordable Care Act, than under the old system.

affordable care act, affordable care act indiana, indiana's 3rd congressional district, obamacare, marlin stutzman

– It seems the only reason to so viciously oppose the ACA in Indiana, is because it works, and running an election campaign on the back of two years worth of scare tactics in order to repeal a law that benefits the majority of the citizens of Indiana, other than the very wealthy, isn’t going to impress too many voters.

Neither is the fact that whilst Stutzman expressed his desire to see SNAP cut by an eye watering $30bn over the next ten years, he was receiving farm subsidies to the tune of $998,000 since 1995. Almost $1,000,000.
Stutzman then tried to plead innocence by suggesting that the Federal government is actually forcing him to take almost $1,000,000 in subsidies that he doesn’t need:

“we can’t say no.”

– The US Department of Agriculture disagrees:

“It’s a voluntary program, You can refuse payment on the farm.”

– So, instead of working to end welfare for the wealthy – including himself – Stutzman is spending his time trying to ensure that Indiana’s residents pay more in health costs, and that the most vulnerable are hit devastatingly hard by horrifying cuts to SNAP. It is no surprise that Stutzman was absolutely fine with splitting SNAP from the farm subsidy program.

Marlin Stutzman isn’t too keen on the Constitution. Introduced by Louie Gohmert (currently worried about cross dressing Satan worshippers invading Church’s as a result of gay marriage), Marlin Stutzman co-sponsored a H.RES.211 in 2011. The Bill states:

“Expressing support for designation of the first weekend of May as Ten Commandments Weekend to recognize the significant contributions the Ten Commandments have made in shaping the principles, institutions, and national character of the United States.”

– The text of the Bill goes on to recognise:

“Whereas the sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams, declared the Ten Commandments to be `laws essential to the existence of men in society, and most of which have been enacted by every nation, which ever professed any code of laws'”

– Unsurprisingly, the quote by John Quincy Adams was manipulated by the Gohmert Bill. Adams actually wrote:

“The law given from Sinai was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code; it contained many statutes adapted to that time only, and to the particular circumstances of the nation to whom it was given; they could of course be binding upon them, and only upon them, until abrogated by the same authority which enacted them, as they afterward were by the Christian dispensation; but many others were of universal application — laws essential to the existence of men in society, and most of which have been enacted by every nation, which ever professed any code of laws.”

– Quite clearly, Quincy Adams was suggesting that many of the ‘laws’ of the OT including those given to Moses, were for the time in which they were given only. Gohmert’s Bill omitted that part of the quote. Strangely, the Bill doesn’t note that John Quincy’s father – the 2nd President of the United States – had written that:

“The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

– Equally as strangely, the Bill doesn’t note that the Constitution quite clearly states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..”

– And yet, here we are, in the 21st Century, witnessing far-right Republicans attempting to pass into law the establishment of one particular religion. The same far-right Republicans, who, in an apparent spirit of Christianity, vote against the reauthorisation of the Violence Against Women Act (Stutzman was the only Indiana member of Congress to vote No on reauthorising VAWA), and vote to cut Federal help for the most vulnerable.

Stutzman voted against Amendment 3 of the Back to Work Budget that would have eliminated tax loopholes, raised taxes on billionaires, brought education investment up, funded jobs programs for poorer areas, and cut defense spending to 2006 levels. Stutzman voted against all of those.

Stutzman is anti-women, anti-jobs, Theocratic, anti-education, and works to further enrich the wealthiest few. He wastes an inexplicable amount of time and effort attempting to defund an established law – a law that actually helps the people in his State – and then announces that he has no idea what his side expects out of the damage they caused.

Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District can do better.

Opposing Rep. Marlin Stutzman for Indiana’s 3rd in 2014, is Democrat challenger Justin Kuhnle. And his website makes a very bold pledge:

“If the unemployment rate of northeast Indiana on average holds at 7.25% or higher for the 13 counties represented in Indiana’s 3rd district, I will withhold accepting 50% of my salary and instead refer these wages to local community development projects.”

– In one declaration of intent, Kuhnle has made the wellbeing of the people of Indiana’s 3rd, his key concern. This is how you put the people at the front and centre of a campaign.

Whilst Stutzman is busy abusing the Constitution, and the democratic process through Theocratic ventures, and government shutdown… Kuhnle is promising to fight for the fundamentals of a market democracy; education, and collective bargaining. On education, Kuhnle says:

” To be successful, we need to invest in our children’s future and invest in our teachers that given their all day in and day out. We need to invest in our education system and the teachers that have dedicated their lives to educating our children. Too often they end up being the scapegoat for what is wrong in education, when it’s the politicians and corporate greed that are to blame. As an elected politician, I will devote all my energy to give our children and parents the choices they deserve to give our next generations of children the fighting chances that they deserve as well as skills necessary to compete on a local and global scale without doing any further cutting to education’s already thinned budget.”

– Kuhnle rightly notes that state funded education, is the most important investment a generation can make in the future. Education is a key ingredient in lifting people from poverty, and providing them with the critical faculties a democracy requires. It seems that whilst Republicans work to reduce spending on education (currently stands at 6% of the Federal Budget, whilst Defense spending stands at a staggering 57%), Kuhnle notices just how important it is to invest in the future of the United States; its children.

Kuhnle also neatly summarises the failings of a fundamentalist approach to free market economics, by stating exactly whose side he stands on:

“I will stand with our workers, both unionized and independent, to ensure that their rights of working a living wage, a safe working environment that is not just physically safe but mentally and emotionally safe, and productivity standards are not skewed to extremes that put workers at a disadvantage.”

– He isn’t dedicated to those earning over $250,000 a year – like Stutzman is seemingly dedicated to – Kuhnle is promising the huge task of working to rectify the deficiencies of the system. The increasing cost of living, the erosion of worker rights, a lack of consideration for those suffering psychologically, and safety in the workplace.

Kuhnle is right to point out that low wages are an issue for Indiana, that Stutzman is failing miserably to address whilst busy trying to defund a healthcare law that actually lower living costs for families in his own district. Kuhnle notes:

“To grow our families stronger, we need to focus on increasing the opportunities of earning a living wages”.

– Kuhnle appears to be more in-tune with real people, and their real concerns about education, fairness in the workplace, and healthcare costs, than his Republican counterpart. The Indiana Institute for Working Families echoes Kuhnle’s concerns:

“Given the new economic reality that families across Indiana face, including stagnating wages and the increasing costs of supporting a family, targeted work supports are more important than ever.”

– Indeed, only Democrats have so far co-sponsored the ‘Fair Minimum Wage Act’. Whilst Kuhnle appears ready to govern for Indiana, Stutzman appears to me to be a Tea Party opportunist whose concern is not for his district, but for his ideology. If the people of Indiana want a Congress that works, it is useless to elect a candidate whose ideology is more important to him than they are. It is useless to elect a candidate who will throw a stick into the wheels of government unless that government does exactly as his small group of extremists demand. Indiana’s 3rd can do far better than that.

It will be a tough campaign for Kuhnle, but it is most certainly possible. He is a much needed voice in Congress. Click here if you wish to help the Kuhnle campaign, and help to paint Congress blue in 2014.

Vote Justin Kuhnle for Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District in 2014.

See here for FD’s focus on Florida’s 2nd, and Illinois’ 13th Congressional Districts.
See here for FD’s focus on West Virginia’s 2nd, and Colorado’s 6th Congressional Districts.
See here for FD’s focus on California’s 1st, and California’s 25th Congressional Districts.
See here for FD’s focus on Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional District.
See here for FD’s focus on Florida’s 19th Congressional District.


The Republican Party: Dreams of the Confederacy.

October 15, 2013

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: By Donald Lee Pardue (Flickr: Still Waving).

Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Author: By Donald Lee Pardue (Flickr: Still Waving).

Conservatives are out in force on social media this week after a Tea Party protest included protestors waving Confederate flags at the White House of the first African American President. The conservative response has typically taken two directions; either the suggestion that the man with the flag was planted by a devious Democrat Party in an attempt to undermine the Tea Party and paint them as racist…. or that it is just one man who does not represent the Tea Party in general. Both presuppose that this is an anomaly. It isn’t.

In June this year, Rand Paul – potential Presidential candidate for 2016 – had to fire the co-author of his book, and his 2012 campaign blogger Jack Hunter, after Hunter penned an article with the by-line “Abraham Hitler“, in which he compares the Lincoln Presidency to the Third Reich. In it, Hunter neatly rewrites history to make the Confederacy seem freedom loving, State’s rights protecting heroes with a goal to be proud of:

“Dissuading the South from seceding by promising to protect slavery didn’t work, because the issue was secondary to the primary issue of constitutional government and states’ rights.”

– This is simply untrue. The Southern States seceded, because of the issue of slavery. There is no other way to spin it without completely disregarding the actual history itself. Any other ’cause’ was simply a device to win over more moderate forces. We know this, because Mississippi’s Declaration of Secession states:

“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world … a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.”

Perhaps most tellingly of all, is the Confederate Constitution. Section 9 of which states:

“(4) No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.”

– This shows how little the Confederacy cared about State’s Rights. The State’s have no right to abolish Slavery. No individual State can pass a law impairing the right of property in slaves. The Confederate Federal Government did not care for State’s Rights. They cared only about maintaining and spreading African American slavery.

Hunter isn’t the first to express sympathy for the Confederate cause. In 2009 – and only a month after the inauguration of the United States’ first African American President, Rep. Bryan Stevenson (R) of the Missouri State House said in reference to the Freedom of Choice Act:

“What we are dealing with today is the greatest power grab by the federal government since the war of northern aggression”.

– Yes, a Unite States, State Representative genuinely referred to the war that ended the hideous institution of owning human beings as slaves, as ‘northern aggression’.

Four years later, House Republican for Texas’s 36th District, Steve Stockman invited Ted Nugent to the 2013 State of the Union, noting in a press release:

“I am excited to have a Patriot like Ted Nugent joining me in the House Chamber to hear from President Obama.”

– We should perhaps then examine just what credentials Republican House Representative Steve Stockman believes a ‘Patriot’ must have. In 2012, the ‘Patriot’ Ted Nugent said of anyone that supports President Obama:

“Pimps whores & welfare brats & their soulless supporters have a president to destroy America.”

In a 1995 interview, the ‘Patriot’ Ted Nugent said:

“I’m on top of a real America with working hard, playing hard, white motherfucking shit kickers, who are independent and get up in the morning.”

– In the same interview, when asked why he specifically mentions white people, and if he believe African Americans are equally hard working and independent, the ‘Patriot’ Ted Nugent responded:

“Show me one.”

In 2012, the ‘Patriot’ Ted Nugent told us all just how much he adores the United States, in the Washington Times:

“I’m beginning to wonder if it would have been best had the South won the Civil War.”

In 2000, during controversy over the displaying of the Confederate flag at the South Carolina State House, Nugent said that those objecting:

“Can take the flag down, but I am going to wear it forever.”

– A “Patriot” to Tea Party Confederates & Republicans like Steve Stockman, wave Confederate flags, wishes the South had won the Civil War (thus upholding slavery), believes African Americans are not hard working, that only white people are true Americans, and anyone who votes Democrat is a “whore” and “Welfare brat”. Sentiments like that spewed by Nugent are not condemned by Republicans as completely unacceptable, offensive, vile, and entirely contrary to the American sense of justice and liberty; but are instead treated with either complete indifference, or promoted as the words of a Patriot.

On January 22nd 2013, whilst Sen. Henry Marsh (D) – a veteran of the Civil Rights era – was attending President Obama’s inauguration, Senate Republicans in the 20-20 split Virginia Senate sneaked through a redistricting bill essentially ensuring a Republican Senate in 2015. Republicans in the Senate went even further that day. Not only did they manipulate the absence of a civil rights veteran to ensure a majority in 2015… they called a halt to the day’s proceedings with the following announcement in the minutes of the day:

“On motion of Senator Stosch, the Senate adjourned in memory or [sic] General Thomas J. ‘Stonewall’ Jackson at 4:10 p.m. to convene Tuesday, January 22, 2013”

– They called a halt to proceedings not because the President had just been re-inaugurated a day before, but instead to honour a Confederate general. Furthermore, Senator Henry Marsh was a lawyer during the Civil Rights days. His law practice focused on civil rights cases. At the same time, Virginia’s Republican Senators were organising resistance to desegregation. That was the 1960s. In 2013, the children of those Republicans use his absence to advance their cause, and pay their respects to a Confederate general. Times change, attitudes and sentiment apparently don’t.

The spectre of the Confederacy follows the 21st Century Republican Party everywhere they go. The Tea Party Confederates aren’t just one man outside the White House waving a flag, it is a growing number of Party members in general, with an apparent air of Confederate nostalgia attaching itself to everything they do and everything they say. A man outside of the White House waving a flag, is simply a drop in the ocean of the thoughts, words, and actions of the Tea Party dream of Confederacy.


21 House Republicans willing to vote for clean CR.

October 4, 2013

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: By Diliff (Uploaded by Diliff).

Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Author: By Diliff (Uploaded by Diliff).

As the US Dollar continues to fall due to the continued shutdown of the US Government, Speaker Boehner has the power to put a stop to it all today if he chooses to abandon Tea Party demands, and sides with Republicans willing to accept defeat.

It now appears that the government would re-open if a vote was put to the House today to pass a clean funding bill without attaching legislative ransoms to the back of it. Along with House Democrats, a full 21 House Republicans are now willing to vote to re-open government, which is four more than necessary to end the shutdown. Speaker Boehner still refuses to let a vote come before the House.

Those 21 Republicans are:

Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ.), Rep. Peter King (R-NY.), Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.), Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ.), Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.), Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY.), Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.), Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.), Rep. Jon Runyan (R-NJ), Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa), Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.).

Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa) released a statement on his website in which he attempts to deflect blame for the catastrophic mishandling of the situation by House Republicans, onto the Senate and the President for not caving to unjustifiable Republican demands:

“It is time for Congress to vote on a budget bill that gets the government back to work providing all of the services already paid for by the hard-working taxpayers in my District and across the country. If a bill comes to the floor to accomplish that goal, I will vote for it.

I have joined my colleagues in the House six times during the last two weeks to pass bills that keep the federal government open while defunding or delaying ObamaCare. Each attempt to eliminate funding for the law, repeal the $30 billion medical device tax driving jobs overseas or treat all Americans equally by giving them the same one-year reprieve from the law’s mandates that the President gave big businesses has been rejected by the President and Senate Democrat leaders. The President and Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid seem perfectly content keeping the “Closed” sign on the Liberty Bell, Valley Forge National Park and Gettysburg National Battlefield. I am not, and I look forward to voting to put government back to work serving the taxpayers very soon.”

– Through all the weak, self serving justifications for House GOP actions over the past seven days in attempting to defund an established Constitutional law that they lost the 2012 Presidential Election on, and a Supreme Court Case on, and the popular vote for both the House on, Gerlach signaled his intent to end the government shutdown as soon as a vote is called.

Another House Republican who has wasted significant legislative time and money voting 42 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act is Mario Diaz-Balart. He appears to have been lied to in order to secure his support for a Federal shut down, and now he’s come to his senses:

“When they brought the idea of defunding Obamacare, House Republicans were told we could get Democratic votes. So I voted for it. But it didn’t happen. Then we tried again. And it didn’t work. The third time, it was like: Look, this isn’t working. Let’s try something else.”

– The implication being that a clean bill would have passed and government kept open, had leading Republicans not lied about the level of support they had for attaching a legislative proposal onto a budget. A further implication being that Diaz-Balart blames House Republicans for a shutdown that in his own words, isn’t working.

On the subject of being lied to in order to support a Federal shut down, Ted Cruz met with Republican Senators at a private lunch to discuss strategy yesterday. One Republican Senator told Politico:

“It’s pretty evident it’s never been about a strategy—it’s been about him. That’s unfortunate. I think he’s done our country a major disservice. I think he’s done Republicans a major disservice.”

– The rest of us knew this before the shutdown. Republicans are now coming to terms with just how badly this has turned out for them, and the dangers of letting a small group of extremists dictate Party tactics.

As early as the 28th September, Charlie Dent (R-Pa) said:

“I’m prepared to vote for a clean CR. I don’t want the government to shut down.”

– Again, the implication being that to vote for anything but a clean CR, would mean you are responsible for government shut down. Charlie Dent is subtly blaming the Republicans for a shut down. He joins House Republicans in 2010, who said:

“it is simply unacceptable to use a must-pass CR as a legislative vehicle ”

– So that’s 21 in 2013 prepared to pass a clean Continuing Resolution, as well as 2010 House Republicans.

Most surprisingly, Peter King (R.NY) told The National Review that two thirds of House Republicans would vote for a clear CR if the vote was allowed to take place:

“If it was on the floor, they would do it. Put it this way, two thirds want a clean CR.
Including some of the people who got elected as tea-party candidates from the South. You talk to them, they think this is crazy.”

– Another Republican Congressman implying that House Republicans are to blame for the shut down. They believe it is crazy to ransom the entire government, for the sake of a battle over an established law that they don’t like.

So with 21 House Republicans all willing to vote for a clean CR, with Democrats proposing a clear CR, and with the President happy to sign a clean CR, what’s stopping a vote in the House on a clean CR? It isn’t Harry Reid. It isn’t the President. It isn’t the 21 Republicans all wishing to reopen government. It’s a Tea Party led group ensuring that Speaker Boehner does not allow the Representatives of the people of the United States – within his own Party – to vote to keep Federal workers in their jobs. For every hour that inches closer to economic meltdown, Speaker Boehner becomes more and more culpable for this entire miserable episode.


House Republicans Demand Clean CR…. in 2010.

October 3, 2013

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: Kevin McCoy.

Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Author: Kevin McCoy.

As House Republicans continue in 2013 to insist that it is perfectly justifiable to use the budget and government shutdown in an attempt to defund an established, constitutional law that they couldn’t achieve through the democratic process, it turns out House Republicans in 2010 thought very differently.

The 23 Republican members of the House Appropriations Committee in 2010 signed a letter addressed to Appropriations Chairman David Obey, that read:

“it is simply unacceptable to use a must-pass CR as a legislative vehicle ”

– House Republicans were unhappy at Democratic attempts to attach policy provisions to Continuing Resolution legislation. You know, like defunding a programme of some sort. Interestingly, this didn’t result in Democrats shutting down government.

Further into the letter, they reiterate just how wrong House Republicans in 2010 believed attaching unrelated items to the Continuing Resolution really is:

“The CR should not be used as a vehicle to carry unrelated items in an attempt to circumvent the regular legislative process and avoid offsetting the costs of such legislation.”

As if that wasn’t clear enough, they continue:

“Under this emerging scenario, we want to make our position abundantly clear: we will not support efforts to pass a CR that contains any unnecessary spending or legislative provisions unrelated to maintaining government operations.”

– That was the position of House Republicans in 2010. Just three years later, House Republicans in 2013 apparently completely disagree, having attached a ransom to the Continuing Resolution in order to ‘circumnavigate the regular legislative process’ after a loss in 2012 that they still haven’t come to terms with.

Among the signees of the call for a clean Continuing Resolution in 2010 (which can be seen here) was Jack Kingston (R-GA 1st). Kingston in 2010 believed that it was completely wrong to ‘carry unrelated items in an attempt to circumvent the regular legislative process’. Kingston in 2013 signed as a co-sponsor Tom Graves (R-GA 14th) plan to tie funding for the Affordable Care Act, to the CR. What a change of values! And in such a short space of time.

Another signee of the call for a clean Continuing Resolution, and the letter that makes ‘abundantly clear’ that he would not in any way negotiate on efforts to pass a CR that “contains any unnecessary spending or legislative provisions unrelated to maintaining government operations” was Ken Calvert (R-CA 42nd). So, given his indignation at the idea of attaching unnecessary partisan legislation to a CR, it is surprising that his website includes this quote:

“Like most Americans, I am frustrated that our federal government has been shut down. I have now voted for four different proposals to keep the government open.”

– All of those four proposals have included unnecessary partisan legislation designed to delay or defund the Affordable Care Act, or as Republicans in 2010 put it; attaching an unnecessary legislative provision. Ken Calvert in 2010 would be ashamed of Ken Calvert in 2013.

It is nice to know President Obama has the full support of House Republicans in 2010, when placing the blame entirely at the feet of House Republicans in 2013 for the current unnecessary shut down of Government.


Ashamed to be a Republican.

October 3, 2013

“We have to do this because of the Tea Party. If we don’t, these guys are going to get primaried and they are going to lose their primary.”
– Greg Walden (R-OR) on the government shutdown.

The BBC’s Washington Correspondent told BBC News yesterday that having spoken to a Republican Senator it is clear that at least 100 Republican Representatives believe their Party has is being held hostage by a Tea Party sect of extremists. As the Republican shutdown of government continues, and places heavy strain on a fragile economy, more and more Republicans in Congress are unhappy at the direction and the hostage tactics of their Tea Party colleagues. But it isn’t just in Congress that an incredibly undemocratic Tea Party is alienating Republicans. Their base support is also becoming increasingly angry with the direction of their Party, and they are taking to Twitter to register their disapproval:

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– The Republican Party’s share of the vote in the Senate & the House dropped in 2012, so much so that they managed to hold the House because of gerrymandering after losing the popular vote. So when proud Republicans in 2013 begin not only to note their disapproval at a particular shift in Party mentality, but are actually ashamed and embarrassed by the tactics of their Party, that drop in the share of the vote could prove to be the nail in the coffin come 2014.


Painting Congress Blue 2014: Focus on Candidates II

September 4, 2013

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It is without doubt that the Democrats have a thoroughly difficult challenge in the next year, if they are to ensure a House painted blue at the end of 2014. This series will provide details on Democratic candidates running for election in 2014, and the work of Republican incumbents.

Yesterday’s focus on Congressional candidates and incumbents for 2014 included Nick Casey running for West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District, and Andrew Romanoff for Colorado’s 6th Congressional District. Today, the focus will be on two more Democratic candidates required for the Democrats to pick up the 17 seats needed to take the House.

Florida’s 2nd Congressional District:
The race for Florida’s 2nd district is already in full swing. The theme running through Democrat candidates for 2014, is to return Congress to a functioning legislature, rather than the chaotic state that it currently resides under Republican leadership. Democratic candidates are absolutely right to fight to restore the confidence in Congress. According to a Gallup poll, as of August 13th, 81% of Americans do not approve of Congress. This downward trend of approval is likely to continue when Congress returns to hammer out agreement on the new fiscal yearly budget, and immigration reform. Republicans have had their opportunity, and they’ve failed miserably.

Gwen Graham is a Democratic candidate for Florida’s 2nd. Daughter of former Senator Bob Graham, Gwen Graham is running as a voice of moderation and bipartisanship in 2014. Among the issues, she supports same sex marriage, based on principles of universal love. Graham said:

“I have a daughter and two sons, and if they came to me and said that they were gay I would want them to have the same rights under the law as everyone else has, and I would want them to be happy and I would want them to be in a committed marriage with someone that they loved”.

Graham also wishes to fight the disastrous outcome following the debate on student loan interest:

“Raising rates for students is no different from raising taxes on middle-class families. And if the politicians in Washington want to raise our rates, they should at least have the guts to be honest about it.
While in D.C., Congressman Southerland must have forgotten we have almost 100,000 college students who live in the second congressional district, and countless families who send their children to colleges outside the district.
Our representative should be a voice for the students and families of North Florida — voting to make college more accessible, not more expensive.”

Florida’s 2nd Congressional District is currently represented by Republican Steve Southerland. The district is on the Democrats top 10 list of seats to take in 2014. The district leans Republican, and Southerland was endorsed in 2010, by Sarah Palin. And it doesn’t take long to find out just why he might have gained the support of the Tea Party’s finest.

Southerland is one of those Republican Congressmen that insists on vocalising a ‘pro-life’ position, until the child is born. And if the child happens to be female, or gay, his pro-life credentials are quickly replaced by a very Patriarchal, Christian-right ideal. For example, Southerland voted against increasing funds for the Violence Against Women Act. In the same month, Southerland voted to block a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, that went some way to address the gender gap in pay. Florida, according to Sun-Sentinel, has a pay gap of around 20%. For every $1 a man makes, a woman makes 80 cents. Southerland also co-sponsored the horrifying ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act‘ with which the GOP eventually relented on, after critics pointed out that is used the loaded phrase “forcible rape” as an exception, suggesting that date rape, statutory rape and other forms would not be covered.

His utter contempt for women doesn’t end there. Southerland voted in favour of prohibiting funds to Planned Parenthood. As noted yesterday, Planned Parenthood offers family planning funding and services including breast and cervical cancer screenings and preventative healthcare to millions of low income women and families. He dismisses the incalculably important advice and services that Planned Parenthood offers vulnerable people, all for Christian crusade against abortion. Writing in Psychology Today, Jennifer Hamady talks of the importance of Planned Parenthood:

“They provide free and drastically reduced gynecological services to those who might otherwise not get treatment, saving the lives of countless mothers and children. They provide affordable care for those who don’t have, can’t afford, or have lost their health insurance. They provide counseling for women and girls who have been abused, raped, or are in the process of being bullied or pressured into sex. They provide education on hygiene and wellness. They provide screening and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.”

– When Southerland and others like him seek to completely prohibit Federal funding for this service, they put a huge number of lives at risk, and care little for those lives.
Victims of domestic abuse, and sexual assault, and those seeking important services like breast and cervical cancer screenings, have been failed by Steve Southerland.
But remember…. he’s “pro-life”.

Whilst Gwen Graham supports keeping politics out of agriculture, Congressman Southerland is blamed by both sides of the political divide for killing the bipartisan Farm Bill in July, with a partisan poison pill amendment. Farmers in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District should not forget that particularly horrendous betrayal, in 2014.

In contrast to Gwen Graham’s support for same-sex marriage on the basis of the right to love, and to be happy, Steve Southerland supports a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. He fails to note just how incredibly unconstitutional this idea is. Defining an institution that exists across cultures and is not confined to Christian Theology, as a Christian ideal and attempting to enshrine that ideal in a secular Constitution, is an outright attack on the founding principles of the United States. It takes a giant Theocratic wrecking ball to the wall of separation between church and state.

This is Gwen Graham’s first run for office, and judging by Congressman Southerland’s lack of support for anyone who isn’t a rich, Christian male, this is going to be an incredibly important race for the Democrats to win. Republicans have noted this, and Southerland is part of their “Patriot Program” designed to shore up support for those House Republicans facing the most difficult races in 2014. If Graham manages to turn Florida’s 2nd Congressional District blue, there will be one less irrational and dangerous Tea Party Republican voting in 2015.

Illinois’s 13th Congressional District:
Whilst Rodney Davis – Illinois Republicans’ 13th Congressional District Representative – is perhaps not as extreme as the Tea Party faction of which Steve Southerland resides, he still presents serious concerns. He opposes same-sex marriage (and as I’ve previously noted, there is not one argument against same-sex marriage that is based on reason rather than bigotry, Davis offers nothing new). And despite being less ‘extreme’ than the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party, we must consider the importance of a Representative’s judgement. In June this year, attorney and Republican Erika Harold announced she would run against Davis for Illinois’ 13th. In response, Montgomery County Republican Chairman Jim Allen sent this email:

“Rodney Davis will win and the love child of the D.N.C. will be back in Shitcago by May of 2014 working for some law firm that needs to meet their quota for minority hires.
The truth is Nancy Pelosi and the DEMOCRAT party want this seat. So they called RINO Timmy Johnson to be their pack mule and get little queen to run.
Ann Callis gets a free ride through a primary and Rodney Davis has a battle.
The little queen touts her abstinence and she won the crown because she got bullied in school,,,boohoo..kids are cruel, life sucks and you move on..Now, miss queen is being used like a street walker and her pimps are the DEMOCRAT PARTY and RINO REPUBLICANS…These pimps want something they can’t get,,, the seat held by a conservative REPUBLICAN Rodney Davis and Nancy Pelosi can’t stand it..
Little Queenie and Nancy Pelosi have so much in common but the one thing that stands out the most.. both are FORMER QUEENS, their crowns are tarnished and time has run out on the both of them..”

– That’s right. The Chairman of Montgomery County’s Republican Party referred to a successful attorney and fellow candidate for the House of Representatives as “a street walker” and that she’d only manage to find work in a law firm due to affirmative action. The Chairman of Montgomery County’s Republican Party was on Rodney Davis 2014 election team.

Davis has set out his plan for 2014, and it is eerily similar to Republican’s failed plan over the past several years, and is the root cause of the stalemate in Congress. Davis appears not to understand. Here he notes his obsession with the futile task of working to repeal Obamacare:

“Rodney believes we must lower taxes for everyone, including small business owners, reduce red tape and regulations, and repeal and replace Obamacare.”

“In Congress, Rodney will fight to repeal and replace the flawed Obamacare.”

– Before the summer break, one of the final votes in the House was to repeal Obamacare. Again. A bill signed into law by the President and upheld by the Supreme Court, the Republicans in early August tried for the ….. 40th time…. to repeal Obamacare. Continuous attempts to repeal, offering no solution, and peddling easily discredited myths, Davis appears to be insisting that this must continue. His sole contribution to the debate on healthcare, is to insist on continuously and pointlessly voting for repeal. Same old Republican Party.

Davis Democratic opponent in 2014 for Illinois’ 13th Congressional District, is Madison County Judge Ann Callis. She self funded her retention campaign for the Judiciary in 2012. Callis has a lot of ground to cover to get her name and her positions known throughout Illinois’ 13th, but over a year to do it, and the 13th is by no means locked down by either Party. It is prudent to begin now, and Callis is a rising star in the Democratic World. Callis seems both moderate, and responsible, and in a district neither safe Red nor safe Blue, moderation is the key. Lean too far to the left or to the right, and the campaign is over. Callis’ positions are set out clearly on her website:

“Ann Callis believes that Washington needs to find ways to cut the deficit responsibly – not on the backs of middle-class families, and not while providing massive tax cuts for millionaires and corporations that ship jobs overseas. In order to help businesses grow and create jobs, we need to get our fiscal house in order and give breaks to small businesses that create jobs here at home. We must also not make dangerous cuts to Social Security, Medicare, education or other programs that are vital to the middle class.”

– She is supported and endorsed by the Women’s Campaign Fund in Washington DC and rather embarrasingly to the Davis campaign, she earned the support of Davis’ mentor, U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, who once noted of her Judicial reforms, that Callis has:

“…earned my respect and the respect of Republicans and Democrats alike.”

Unlike Davis, who seemingly believes endless votes to repeal Obamacare is the principle function of Congress, Callis rightfully notes:

“Judge Callis believes Washington’s top priority must be to create good jobs that will keep our middle class strong. Congress should be working to create an environment where small businesses can grow and thrive, not making ill conceived cuts that hamper our fragile economic recovery.”

– As we found out here in the UK, ill conceived cuts are the absolute antithesis of economic recovery. It is dangerous, it destroys lives, and it leads to stagnation and despair with no positive results. Callis is right to point out the consequences of ill conceived cuts.

Whilst Davis, on his site, dogmatically tells us that Government cannot create jobs, Callis (and history) disagrees:

“Rebuilding our local infrastructure and re-training those who are actively looking for work are vital steps toward keeping the middle class secure.”

– What comes across from both campaigns, is that the Republican candidate favours a trickle-down system that has never worked for the majority, whilst the Democratic candidate is focused on pragmatism rather than dogmatism on economic sustainability.

With a little over a year to go until the 2014 election, it will be interesting to note the twists these campaigns take, the fiery rhetoric, and the evolving positions. Democrats need to secure 17 seats in order to gain a majority in the House and ensure an end to the awful deadlock that has plagued Congress since the Republican take-over in 2010.

Vote Gwen Graham for Florida’s 2nd Congressional District.
Vote Ann Callis for Illinois’ 13th Congressional District.

See here for a previous Focus on Candidates in this series.


The Madness of Louie Gohmert (R-TX)

September 1, 2013

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Since 2008, the Republican Party has exceeded expectations, in presenting fanatical hysteria as reasonable points of opposition. From descriptions of dreaded, but wholly invented ideas of ‘death panels’, to gay marriage unleashing a ‘generation of barbarians’, we’ve seen it all, and all in less than five years. But one name often goes unheard (at least, over here in the UK), exists on the periphery, yet epitomises the Republican Party shift from centre-right, to far-right-hysteria. And that name is Louie Gohmert.

Louie Gohmert is Texas’ 1st Congressional District Representative. He was re-elected in 2010 to serve his fifth term in Congress. He has a plethora of beautifully ridiculous statements in his back catalogue. We see Satan Worshipping cross dressers make an appearance, terrorist babies, as well as an oil pipeline necessary to ensure reindeer have sex. It’s a very diverse range that Gohmert has so tenderly bestowed upon us. I’ll give you a brief run down of some of my favourite Gohmert moments:

When pressed for his position on – well – any issue, he finds the most extreme position, and uses it to make his case. For example, on the subject of gun control legislation, Gohmert said:

“…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 argument, to a same-sex marriage slippery slope argument. The fallacious nature of the argument itself would be laughable if it weren’t so horrendously dangerous and bigoted. There is a reason the slippery slope is a fallacy; it is baseless. It is like saying: “Well you eat chicken meat, so why not eat human meat? Where does it end!“.

On gay marriage, Gohmert continues:

“someone who believes in evolution … that throughout the history of the universe, and particularly Earth, that people have come together and born an offspring from different species that has evolved and given us stronger and better species, how does the mating of two males evolve the species upwards?”

– This isn’t an attack on gay marriage, this is an attack on homosexuality itself. It is also a complete misunderstanding of evolution, and sexuality. Evolution isn’t about a species evolving “upwards”. It is simply producing survival and sustaining mechanisms for survival within the current climate and landscape that the species inhabits. There is no direction. Evolution isn’t wilfully trying to produce ‘better species’, just species able to adapt to the surroundings of that particular time.

Secondly, sexuality is a natural spectrum. No biologist, geneticist or evolutionist will tell you that sexuality is a choice. Sexuality is a spectrum not just for humans, but hundreds of species. Female Japanese macaques prefer sexual conduct with other female Japanese macaques, but still mate with males. They are entirely bisexual. It is as natural as the spectrum of eye colour. The very fact that homosexuality exists, means it has an evolutionary advantage. Gohmert misunderstands science entirely.

Whilst on the subject of same-sex marriage, Louie Gohmert – an actual lawmaker – gave us his belief on where such legislation would inevitably lead. According to Gohmert, those supporting same-sex marriage wish to see:

…hire whatever Satan-worshiper, whatever cross-dresser you think might be immoral, that’s against your religious belief. You are going to be forced to abandon your religious beliefs, and we’ve been seeing that with some of the requirements under Obamacare.”

– Yes! Someone had to say it! Obamacare is simply a mask to make Churches hire cross-dressing Satan-Worshippers! It’s SO obvious. Wake up America!
The fact that this man gets the privilege to vote on gun legislation; a vote on the safety of your children in school, is quite frankly repulsive.

On the subject of sex-education, Gohmert said:

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

– Humanity also existed for a very long time without Jesus. So naturally we can assume Gohmert wishes to withdraw talk of Christ from the classroom. Gohmert’s argument here could be used to restrict progress in any subject known to man. 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, 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 Louie!

But there’s one thing missing from his argument to make it typically as far to the Republican Right as possible:

“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.”

– Yes! That’s what was missing! Drawing comparisons to Communism! 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.

In 2010 on the floor of the House, Gohmert told his fellow Representatives, that the terrorists had a new plot. According to Gohmert, he had been given evidence that:

“It appeared that [the terrorists] would have young women, who became pregnant, would get them into the United States to have a baby. And then they would turn back where they could be raised and coddled as future terrorists. And then one day, twenty, thirty years down the road, they can be sent in to help destroy our way of life,”

– So, whilst crossdressing Satan worshippers are preaching to Soviet children about sex-ed, terrorists will be impregnating American women with terror babies. Naturally, Gohmert hasn’t produced any evidence to back up this madness, other than the word of his apparent FBI informant. Needless to say, the FBI’s former Assistant Director, Thomas Fuentes responded that there is absolutely no evidence, or even concern, or even a report of any kind, at the FBI of a conspiracy of terror babies. Responding to Fuentes refutation, Gohmert told CNN:

“The explosions wont happen for ten or fifteen years. And then you will be one of those blips – I’m not comparable to Winston Churchill – but the detractors like you are comparable to his detractors.”

– It’s nice of Gohmert to point out that he isn’t comparable to Winston Churchill. But despite all of his assurances of a terror baby plot, he has never produced a shred of evidence. So, that’s GOP men v Al Qaeda men, in a fight for the right to control a woman’s womb.

In the past, Gohmert has also blamed the Aurora shootings on lack of belief in God; he’s demanded an investigation into Muslim Brotherhood’s infiltration of the US government; told a woman who aborted a fetus that had no active brain function that she should have carried it to full term; and that he supported the trans-Alaskan oil pipeline because reindeer will have more sex:

“So when they want to go on a date, they invite each other to head over to the pipeline. So my real concern now … if oil stops running through the pipeline… do we need a study to see how adversely the caribou would be affected if that warm oil ever quit flowing?”

Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert is typical of the new Republican right. Amid the occasional hysterically funny sentiments about reindeer oil-pipeline romance, he seems unable to fathom that there is a vast gulf between quantifiable evidence, and what he believes might probably happen, sometime, maybe. The Republican crazy-right are incapable of presenting evidence for their most frenzied arguments. They tend to contradict secure, scientific understanding of the World and of humanity at every possible opportunity, without presenting a thesis or even a shred of evidence as to why the scientific consensus is wrong, and they are right. Whilst I would agree that it is a tactic designed to whip up fear and agitation, I would also argue that politicians like Gohmert genuinely believe what they say to be true, and that is perhaps far more unnerving.

Texas can do better than Louie Gohmert.


Debunking Republican ‘Obamacare’ Myths.

August 28, 2013

The President signs the Affordable Care Act into law. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author:  Pete Souza.

The President signs the Affordable Care Act into law.
Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Author: Pete Souza.


In between wasting time and money attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act every second of every day in the House, the Republican Party is rather adept at ‘Obamacare’ myth invention. It is as if an entire industry has grown up around the creation of Republican over-dramatic myths, from the early days screaming about ‘death panels’ to myths that provisions in the Act will allow forced home inspections, there have been many in between. And they tend to be pleasingly simple to disprove. Here are three recent GOP Affordable Care Act myths:

Forced Home Inspections.
The ‘forced home inspection’ myth is a particularly new and creative attack on the Affordable Care Act, that swept the blogosphere a couple of weeks back. Republicans on Twitter raged that this was definitely the end of liberty as we know it. The trouble is, it’s a complete fabrication.

The myth stems from South Carolina State Rep. Rick Quinn, at a state House subcommittee meeting back in March. Quinn said:

One of the things we can do … in terms of … preventing state employees from trying to enforce aspects of this law…for example, the forced home inspections that I’ve heard about.”

– This quote then made its way onto numerous blogs, and spread like wildfire. The facts though, do not support the quote. The aspect of the law that Rick Quinn refers to, is actually a state voluntary service providing home visits for new and expectant mothers. It is not in anyway involuntary. The use of the word ‘forced’ makes it appear violent, as if the President has troops waiting to invade your house. It is actually a law to provide a better service, and improve the health of the most vulnerable families. It could not be clearer. Article 7a of Section 2951 – Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visitation Programs – states:

“The participation of each eligible family in the program is voluntary”

– Rick Quinn is wrong. He appears to have tried to cover his inability to investigate for himself the allegations that he wildly spreads with the phrase “…that i’ve heard about”. That isn’t good enough. It’s the abandonment of reason, for the sake of presenting a false narrative for ideological purposes. It’s misleading, and thoroughly disingenuous.

Members of Congress can opt-out of Affordable Care Act:
Ted Cruz, the wonderkid of the Republican Party right now, is learning the ropes rather quickly. Cruz stood in front of the Family Leadership Summit in Iowa at the beginning of August, and said:

“President Obama just granted all of Congress an exception. And he did it because Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats who passed this thing came begging and said, ‘Please, please, please let us out of Obamacare.’ This thing ain’t working.”

– Much like the ‘forced home inspections’ line, this too, is a myth. Here is what that particular aspect of the law states:

“Notwithstanding any other provision of law … the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be health plans that are — (I) created under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act); or (II) offered through an Exchange established under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act).”

– There is nothing in this law that allows Congress to opt-out of the Affordable Care Act. Members of Congress are now treated to the same exchanges as small businesses and those who have no insurance. If you are to claim to opt-out for Congressmen, you must also claim an opt-out for small businesses and the uninsured.
Secondly, Cruz claimed that the ‘opt-out’ that doesn’t exist, was passed because Senate Democrats insisted that plan wasn’t working. That also, is not true.
The law quoted above, is actually a clarification, on an amendment proposed by Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who argued that:

“members of Congress should get the same coverage that we are coming up with for everyone else.

– And that’s exactly what will happen, by January 2014.

Full-Time Work Destroyed by The Affordable Care Act:
According to the GOP website, 8,200,000 Americans are:

“Unable To Find Full-Time Work Partly Due To ObamaCare.”

– This is a wild distortion of the facts. The figures they quote from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is actually the number of those in part time work, looking for full time work. There is no mention of the Affordable Care Act. The Bureau never claim this figure has anything to do with ObamaCare. In fact, as FactCheck point out, the 8.2 million number is actually part of a fluctuating, yet downward trend in those working part-time, looking for full-time work:

Part-Time-Workers-488x355
– This is exactly as we’d expect to see, during a period of economic recovery following a deep recession.
Republicans have been touting this figure of 8.2 million, and “soaring” numbers of part-time workers forced to do so because of the provisions of Obamacare, for well over a year, and it is based on absolutely nothing of any substance.

I once watched John McCain tell a hall full of people in the run up to the 2008 Presidential election, that the British National Health Service refused to treat patients over the age of 75. This was the same week that my 83 year old grandmother here in the UK, was being treated by the National Health Service. Now, either McCain blatantly lied, or my grandma was younger than she claimed. Whilst I remember her cheating at Monopoly once, I’m not sure she could sustain a lie about her age for so many years.

When the complaints of Politicians toward a particular Act become more and more frenzied and over-dramatic, chances are, they aren’t being entirely honest. It is worth double checking every claim made by opponents of the Affordable Care Act, before accepting the complaint as genuine. It is also worth noting that whilst the Republicans spend an unaffordable amount of time and money attempting to repeal an Act signed into law and upheld by the Supreme Court, they are voting to ensure millions of the most vulnerable people – including children – remain uninsured and defenseless.


The Republican Party: From Lincoln to Romney.

August 26, 2013

Lincoln_O-60_by_Brady,_1862

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”
— President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864

“Corporations are people, my friend… of course they are.”
– Mitt Romney, 2012.

There is a rather neat simplicity in Republican circles that insists upon the populace, that the Republican Party of the 21st Century, is a continuation of the Republican Party of President Lincoln. In 2010, Christine O’Donnell, running for Senate seat for Delaware, was one of those running for Congress, asserting that the Republican Party that she belonged to, was the Party of Lincoln. It is as if they believe that had Abraham Lincoln, or Teddy Roosevelt (another name often used to link the GOP to its roots) existed today, they would find a similar Republican Party – in tone, and in policy – to the GOP they left behind, when in fact the history of the Republican Party renders it a completely separate entity from its late 19th early 20th Century counterpart.

It isn’t difficult to draw parallels between Texan Governor Rick Perry’s subtle call for secession, on the re-election of President Obama, shouting States Rights, to the same calls upon the election of President Lincoln in 1860 and the same States demanding secession, shouting States Rights (the Civil War was never about States Rights, as I point out in a previous article here).

Indeed, had Lincoln lived today, I would go as far as to say that the Republican Right might categorise him as a liberal who should be opposed at every opportunity. It would be the Republicans calling for secession. The GOP in 2013 is simply anti-government intervention for the most vulnerable. It is a fundamentalist position. It does not take into account context, or indeed, facts.

In contrast, President Lincoln was not anti-government intervention. Far from it, he pressed for state sponsored subsidies for railway building, canal building, road building amongst other Federally financed projects – a stimulus, as you may call it today. A vast swarm of States at the time – including Maine, Iowa, Minnesota, Maryland, Kentucky – had State constitutional bans on Federal subsidies for infrastructure. In fact, it was such a contentious issue splitting the progressive, Government-spending attitude of Lincoln’s northern Republicans with the Democrats in the South, that the Confederate Constitutional Drafters included the particularly conservative, anti-Federal clause:

“… neither this, nor any other clause in the Constitution shall ever be construed to delegate the power to Congress to appropriate money for any internal improvements intended to facilitate commerce”

– The Confederacy – with logic similar to today’s Republicans – considered internal improvements to be a matter for the individual states, not the Federal government. Lincoln disagreed. To the South, Lincoln was the very epitome of the power of central Federal government. Lincoln believed the Federal government to be a force for good.

In 1862, the Lincoln Administration signed into law, the Revenue Act. What this did, was to create the Commissioner of Internal Revenue; the IRS. Furthermore, the law created the USA’s first ever progressive income tax. If your annual income was less than $600, you paid nothing. If your income was greater than $10,000, you paid 5% (this was increased to 10% in the Revenue Act of 1864). It was designed to aid those who couldn’t afford to pay, whilst placing an increasing burden on those who could most afford to. For its time, this was an incredibly progressive step. We can contrast this today to Republicans in – for example – Wisconsin, who are currently pushing for a State flat tax, that independent analysis suggests is simply a massive tax cut for the wealthiest, whilst increasing the burden on the most vulnerable. The exact opposite of the Lincoln plan.

But it isn’t only Lincoln. Republicans will also mention their party’s ties to Teddy Roosevelt. “We’re the Party of Lincoln & Roosevelt!” is the cry from the Republican faithful. And yet, it is difficult to find any similarities between the Republican Party of 1901 – 1909, and the Republican Party in 2013. For example, in the 2012 campaign, Romney set himself up as the anti-union candidate. For Romney, unions were the problem. They hampered corporate power (the corporate power Lincoln – and in fact, Jefferson – were fearful of). For Romney, any legislation that empowered working people over the managerial classes, was only going to create bigger economic problems. This is no surprise given that when Romney was in control of Bain Capital, his company took over Marion, Ind, laid off one fifth of its workers, sharply cut health benefits, cut wages, and abolished its retirement plan. Romney got rich, by hammering working people into the ground, destroying unions, and fostering poverty.

By contrast Teddy Roosevelt supported United Mine Workers, when they went on strike in 1902 for higher wages and better conditions. The Republican President’s support for unions led UMW to a pay increase, for less hours. This, a year after Roosevelt delivered a speech to Congress demanding the curbing of power of large corporations, earning him the title of ‘Trust Buster’. He then signed into law the Meat Inspection Act making it illegal for a label to be misleading, and banned harmful chemicals. With his trust busting, and his dedication to food safety, Monsanto’s abuses certainly wouldn’t have lasted very long. To today’s Republicans, Teddy Roosevelt is far more to the left, than President Obama.

Moreover, Theodore Roosevelt wished to regain the Presidency in 1912, from his Republican ally William Taft, whom he now distrusted and considered anti-progressive. Failing to do so, Roosevelt then went about setting up the very short lived Progressive Party. The Progressive Party proposed the following; strict regulations on campaign contributions (Senate Minority Leader in 2013, Mitch McConnell has very good reason to oppose campaign finance reform; his loyalties lie entirely with big business); A universal healthcare system, proposed 40 years before the British NHS, and still not realised to this day whilst Republicans spend an incredible amount of money on constant repeal-Obamacare votes in the House; Minimum wage for women; social security to provide for the elderly, disabled and unemployed (all threatened by 21st Century Republicans); an inheritance tax (repealed in Indiana by State Republicans in 2012).
Naturally the Progressive Party died horribly, after funding ran dry given that Corporate interests didn’t particularly favour a progressive position. Nevertheless, in 1912, hundreds of progressive Republicans ran for office.

Let us also not forget that whilst the Republican Party today appears to be having a problem appealing to minorities, and giving the impression that it is willing to suppress voting rights of African Americans the moment the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act; the defining feature of the Ulysses Grant Republican administration, was one of extending voting rights, and progressing civil rights for African Americans. Grant was the first President to sign a Civil Rights Act, in direct conflict with rising anti-civil rights groups in the South.

On the issue of race, it appears to me that the period following the 1876 election, which saw the removal of Federal Troops from the South, allowing Democrats to again mistreat African Americans, lead to Southern Republicans trying to win over those white folk who were naturally drawn to the Democrats, thus we see Republicans actively abandoning the cause of civil rights.

The Democrats had a similar struggle to become the more progressive party we see today. As late as the 1950s we see a Democratic Party that included Hubert Humphrey who strongly advocated a shift in Democrat policy, by including the idea to end racial segregation, at the 1948 Party Platform at the DNC. This moment marks a huge shift for the Democrats. Humphrey took to the DNC floor and demanded that on racial segregation, the Democrats abandon their old position, and:

“…walk into the sunshine of human rights.”

– As Humphrey was making his way through the Democratic ranks, forging new ideas for the Party, another Democrat – Strom Thurmond – was actively fighting the change. Thurmond supported Jim Crow, and segregation. This split eventually lead to Thurmond joining the Republicans, and supporting Nixon’s vastly racist southern strategy. It is incredible to note than in less than a century, the Republican Party went from passing the 13th, 14th & 15th Amendments, reconstruction, and pioneering the way to bring African Americans into politics….. to supporting, and violently enforcing racial segregation. The Eisenhower Republicans of the 1950s, were completely different to the Lincoln Republicans of the 1850s.

By the 1960 election, we see a clear shift of powerful rhetoric, defining what the Democrats now stood for. Less than 100 years after the end of the Civil War, the Democrats were now firmly the party of the progressives, the heirs to Lincoln and Roosevelt. We see this, with Kennedy’s nomination acceptance speech in New York:

“If by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.” ”

– This could easily be repeated in 2013, and the same lines of division between liberal and conservative, Democratic and Republican, would apply.

The Republicans we see today started to crop up around the time of the Roosevelt New Deal era, having been stirring for around the previous 60+ years since the end of Reconstruction. According to Nancy Weiss in “Farewell to the Party of Lincoln: Black Politics in the Age of FDR” writes:

“Roosevelt and the New Deal changed the voting habits of black Americans in ways that have lasted to our own time.”

– For a number of years before the New Deal, both Parties were promising some sort of help for the most vulnerable, via the enlarging of Federal Government. The northern Democrats of the Roosevelt era knew fully that the Great Depression gave them the opportunity to reconstitute the entire Democratic Platform. It is only during the New Deal era that the Republicans start becoming the Party of small government, and pressing ahead with much more racially divisive ideas. It is around this time too, that the Republicans start to become involved far more with the Christian Right. President Lincoln did not advertise his religious beliefs, and often questioned Christian dogma. Not as much as Jefferson, but certainly enough to render him the devil in the eyes of a fundamentalist like Rick Santorum.

The name “The Republican Party” is empty & meaningless for the sake of recalling its history. It is the attitudes – conservative or progressive – inclinations, beliefs and policies that form a Party, not its name. The big business, anti-progressive, anti-welfare, rabid obsession with small government fundamentalist vision of the Republican Party in 2013, cannot be identified in any way with the early Republican Administrations, and certainly not with that of Theodore Roosevelt. The Democrats & Republicans of the 19th Century are in no way comparable to their 21st Century counterparts. It is important to point our the complete 180 degree turn the Republicans & Democrats have gone through over the past 150+ years, when confronted with those who claim that today’s GOP is the “Party of Lincoln!“.

21st Century progressivism is the natural heir to the 19th and 20th Century progressivism of Lincoln and Roosevelt.


Trayvon Martin and racism in 21st Century America.

July 15, 2013

The Trayvon Martin murder case has opened up wounds in American social life, that have been poorly bandaged for decades. A young boy, unarmed, confronted by a racist ‘neighbourhood watch’ patrolman with a gun, is confronted simply for ‘looking suspicious’, and is shot to death. The defendant is subsequently acquitted. The defendant, who, apparently cannot understand the difference between someone who is black and committing a crime, and someone who is black and not committing a crime, shoots the man who isn’t, and wasn’t going to commit a crime (I’m almost certain George Zimmerman would not have racially profiled Trayvon Martin that night, had Martin been white), and is acquitted. You would have to suspend all reasonable faculties, and wish away reality, to believe this has no racist connotations. But if you are in doubt here is Zimmerman’s 9/11 call in which he refers to Trayvon Martin as a “fucking coon“.

The privilege afforded to white Americans in everyday social situations, may be less noticeable on the surface, than it perhaps was fifty years ago, but it is still there.

A study by the American economic review between July 2001 and May 2002 entitled “Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination.” , found that job applicants with a white sounding name are 50% more likely to be asked back than an applicant with a white sounding name. The researchers sent out 5000 applications in sales, marketing, clerical and customer service positions. The names they used were a mix of white sounding names, and African American sounding names. The report showed that white applicants with stronger resumes than other white applicants received 30% more callbacks, whereas African American applicants with stronger resumes than other African American applicants received just 9% more callbacks. It proved that regardless of credentials, African American applicants were 50% less likely to get a callback than a white applicant.

Another study conducted by Public Policy Polling found that 46% of Mississippi Republicans think interracial marriage should be illegal. Interestingly, Sarah Palin is the favoured candidate among Mississippi Republicans who think interracial marriage should be illegal, by 17 points more than second place. It is of course no surprise that a Tea Party-styled candidate may be favoured among racist voters, given Tea Party rallies tend to include racist overtones.

Several times over the past few years, Palin has been on stage with Ted Nugent. The same Nugent invited to the State of the Union. Rep. Steve Stockman (R) said of Nugent’s invitation to the State of The Union:

“I Am Excited To Have A Patriot Like Ted Nugent Joining Me In The House Chamber To Hear From President Obama.”

– Both Palin’s appearance with Nugent, and Stockman’s insistence that Nugent is a “Patriot”, or a real American that Stockman can respect is rather telling given that Nugent once said that real Americans are:

“Working Hard, Playing Hard, White Motherfucking Shit Kickers Who Are Independent.”

– The seemingly racist Ted Nugent, loved by the Republican Party as a “Patriot” once said of the United States of America:

“I’m beginning to wonder if it would have been best had the South won the Civil War.”

– This is the man the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party embraces as a Patriot. A Confederate racist. So it is no surprise that Sarah Palin supporters in Mississippi would like to see interracial marriage banned.

On a side note, Ted Nugent is an NRA board member. The NRA lobby for ‘Stand your Ground’ laws, the very law that failed Trayvon Martin, and is already appearing to be a law of white privilege. A Federal lawsuit in Georgia in 2012 required Georgia strike down its ‘Stand your Ground’ law, because it didn’t specify what circumstances justified “standing your ground”. According to the lawsuit, courts in Georgia had:

“…accepted the race of a victim as evidence to establish the reasonableness of an individual’s fear in cases of justifiable homicide.”

– What this essentially means is, “I shot him, because I was scared, because he was black“. It is a white privilege defence. Ted Nugent, Confederate, racist, advocate of laws that threaten the lives of innocent African Americans, and according to Republicans; a ‘Patriot’.

Institutional racism – an economic, social, or political structure designed to advance one race to the disadvantage of another – is particularly subtle, and so less noticeable in 21st Century America, than it was 40 years ago, though it still exists. If you are African American, you are three times more likely to be pulled over in your car and searched for drugs than if you’re white, despite the fact that if you’re white, on the few occasions when you are pulled over you are four times more likely to have drugs on you. If you are white and you drive past the police without them pulling you over, you are experiencing the privilege of being white. The war on drugs then, is not a war on drugs, if it were, those statistics would be a hell of a lot different. The war on drugs would go where the drugs actually are, not where the people with dark skin are.

Fox News’s Geraldo blamed Trayvon Martin for his own death, rather creatively:
Geraldo-Rivera-GeraldoRivera-on-Twitter
– Geraldo went on to clarify that:

“What I was trying to do was caution parents that allowing kids to wear hoodies or similar clothing in certain circumstances, particularly if they were minority young men, could be dangerous,”

– I’d say allowing your children to watch a ‘News’ network that pushes the seemingly racist agenda of a particular party, is far more dangerous, and perpetuates the problem in the first place. The danger of wearing a hoody, is the product of Fox News, Republican style politics of fear and division. Fox News: Throwing fuel onto the fire, and then blaming those burning for being too flammable.

Thirteen US States currently completely disenfranchise ex-felons. It is predictable, that this form of voter disenfranchisement disproportionately affects minorities; usually people from poorer minority backgrounds, who have already felt the effects of institutional racism within the school system, health system (The infant mortality rate for African American women was 2.4 times the rate of white women), housing system and justice system. Due to previous convictions, 5.3 million Americans were not allowed to vote in 2004.

In June this year, the conservative lead Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, allowing States to change their own voting laws. The Voting Rights Act was of utmost importance in the fight against institutional racism, covering those States most affected by institutional racism through voting restrictions: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Georgia & South Carolina.
The Act prohibited States from imposing:

“voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure … to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.”

– The Supreme Court struck down Section 4(b) which creates a formula which determines what a State must do to be subject to Section 5, which forces a State to seek approval from the Department of Justice before changing voting rules. Without Section 4(b), there is no Section 5.
Predictably, like a dog pulling on its leash, desperate to break away; within hours of the Supreme Court’s decision, Texas announced it would rush ahead with changing Voting rules. As if Republican Texans had waited decades for this moment. The Texas Attorney General, Greg Abbott announced he would be immediately reinstating the Voter ID rule:

“With today’s decision, the state’s voter ID law will take effect immediately. Photo identification will now be required when voting in elections in Texas.”

– Voter ID costs fall heavily on African American, and Hispanic communities. A hugely disproportionate number of those without photo ID, registered to vote, are Latin American.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University found that in the last decade alone, Section 4(b) and Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, protected minority voters, by striking down 43 attempts to change election rules in the noted States. Between 1982, and 2006, the Justice Department struck down 2,400 state and local voting rule changes. Thanks to voter protection for minorities, the proportion of African Americans registered to vote in Alabama increased from 19% in 1965 to 73% in 2004. The provisions struck down by the conservative majority on the Supreme Court, were working.

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act was left in place by the Supreme Court. Southern Republicans believe this to be enough to prevent racist policies creeping into the States. Section 2 allows the Federal Government to prosecute any local official introducing racist electoral policies. However, this relies on the victims of the racist electoral policies, pursuing legal action, finding a lawyer, knowing who to contact, where to go. Suddenly, the victims are the ones who must shoulder the burden.

Suppression of minority voters, and playing on race issues, is a key factor in Republican election strategies, and has been for a very long time. Nixon’s Southern Strategy was a way to realign racist voters in the South away from the Democrats, over to the Republicans. Nixon’s strategist Kevin Phillips told the New York Times:

“From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don’t need any more than that…but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.”

– Well, in 2013 Republicans have the racist vote, and so the Voting Rights Act is no longer required to “prod” them over to the GOP, and so the Voting Rights Act is no longer beneficial to Republicans. In 2013 this means, voter ID, trimming down early voting, enforcing long waiting times at voting booths, banning ex-felons from voting, and as was happening in Michigan in 2008; attempting to block people from voting if they turned up to vote still registered to their foreclosed home. These measures are all designed to suppress minority votes. The Republican Party is institutionally racist.

But it isn’t just conservatives that show horrendous racial prejudice. After the Supreme Court struck down Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act, Minnesota State Rep. Ryan Winkler, a Democrat tweeted this:

winkler
– An incredibly ironic statement, in that he is referring to Justice Clarence Thomas, an African American, as “uncle Thomas”, a phrase used to describe an African American who betrays his race to win favour from a structure of white privilege. The implication being that Justice Thomas couldn’t possibly have any other reason for opposing Section 4(b), than to suck up to those he must consider to be his white superiors. A second implication being, that African Americans must place their skin tone at the front of all policy considerations, whilst white people can have a multitude of reasons for opposing or supporting particular policy.

Martin’s friend Rachel Jeantel told the court that Trayvon had called her moments before the confrontation with Zimmermand, and had said he was being followed by “some creepy ass cracker“. In an article for The Slate, Craig Pittman says:

“So when Trayvon Martin, who was black, referred to George Zimmerman, a light-skinned Hispanic, as a “cracker,” did he mean it in the “hey, look, it’s a son of the pioneers!” way? Given that the term was modified by the adjective “creepy-ass,” I would have to say no. ”

– The implication being that Martin was the one that introduced racism to the confrontation. It is of course, intensely unimportant given that Zimmerman himself didn’t think to mention this, and so it didn’t actually figure in his decision to confront Trayvon. If Martin did use ‘cracker’, of course it was meant in a racial sense. The fact remains that had Zimmerman not racially profiled, and followed Martin in the first place (the introduction of confrontational racism into the situation), then the term ‘cracker’ (used by Martin in this context, whilst trying to walk away from Zimmerman) would not have been used. Zimmerman introduced racism, and very confrontational racism, into the equation. Any ensuing racism on the part of Trayvon Martin, can only be considered secondary, and completely unimportant to the case, after the fact that Zimmerman had already racially profiled him. The racism that lead to the death of unarmed, innocent Trayvon Martin was on the part of armed, racist George Zimmerman, and no one else.

Trayvon Martin was followed and stopped, because he was black. George Zimmerman – despite his previous appearances in court for domestic violence, battery, speeding and alcohol abuse – will never have to experience that level of profiling. At night, in the street, he is presumed innocent. Trayvon Martin, on account of his skin colour, was presumed guilty. Racism is a social structure, not simply an individual revealing private prejudices.

Those who insist that white privilege is no more, that racism is dead, that a framework built on race-based power is a relic of the past, are the very conservatives on the Supreme Court, and the ruling Republicans in Southern States who stand to gain the most from perpetuating racism and white privilege. America has an institutional racism problem, whose weakly applied bandage is slowly peeling away.


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.


The Reagan Convictions

July 1, 2013

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: Michael Evans [Public domain].

Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Author: Michael Evans [Public domain].

Conservatives over in America, in an effort to find any scandal possible to throw at the President, are obsessing daily, still, over the events that lead up to Benghazi. It’s an interesting scandal, because it seems to be one in which those shouting the loudest, are doing so simply to destabilise the President, rather than caring too deeply for those affected by the horrendous tragedy in Benghazi. I would hazard a guess that most cannot name the victims. It is used simply as an excuse to call for secession, or impeachment, or casting out demons, or any other craze the far-right in the US has decided to cling onto today.

And yet, ask most right winged, angry Americans who the greatest President of all time was, and most will say Ronald Reagan. Some will note President Lincoln, others may say Thomas Jefferson. Both of whom are examples of Presidents who overstepped Constitutional executive power, both increased the size of government, and Jefferson especially was incredibly anti-Capitalism (as I note here, in my article on Jefferson, and the Tea Party). So it is of no surprise, that the Reagan Presidency is also a rather hypocritical Presidency to be particularly fond of, if you’re a right winged American. Reagan’s Presidency was perhaps the most corrupt in living memory. And here is why:

President Reagan’s Deputy Chief of Staff at the White House, Michael Deaver was convicted in 1987 of committing perjury in statements submitted to a Congressional subcommittee and then grand jury, in relation to his secret lobbying activities within the administration. He was sentenced to three years, later reduced to probation for three years and a $100,000 fine, along with 1,500 hours of public service.

Reagan’s National Security Advisor, Robert McFarlane was imprisoned in 1990 and fined $20,000 for his part in the Iran-Contra affair in ’86, in which the Reagan Administration ignored the arms embargo on Iran, and initiated the selling of weapons. The money gained through sales would then be slyly diverted to help train and fund the violent contra’s in Nicaragua; a group that had been struck off the US funding list, by Congress in ’82 and ’84. But of course, McFarlane’s clear corruption and overstepping of Federal executive power, was ignored when President Bush – another Republican – pardoned him in 1992.

In 1982, Reagan appointed California State Republican Rita Lavelle to the position of assistant administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for solid waste and emergency response. She was in control of around $1.5bn to be used for chemical spills and hazardous waste. She was convicted in 1984 of lying to Congress, over her misuse of the $1.5bn fund. She served three months, paid a $10,000 fine, and was place on probation for five years.
In 2005, Lavelle was convicted again, this time of wire fraud, and making false statements to the FBI, in relation to forged documents and trying to defraud another company out of $36,000.

The 43rd United States Secretary of the Interior, appointed by President Reagan in 1981, was James Watt. He held the record (until a President W Bush appointee) of protecting the fewest endangered species on the list, in US history. In 1995 Watt was indicted on 25 counts of perjury and obstruction of justice for giving false statements to a grand jury during an investigation into Department of Housing and Urban Development influence peddling, of which Watt lobbied in the 1980s. He plea bargained, paid a $5000 fine, five years probation, and ordered to give 500 hours of community service.

Five years after nominating Rita Lavelle, and whilst Secretary of the Interior was running up his record of caring little for endangered species, Reagan nominated another dubious character, to Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Deborah Gore Dean was convicted by jury of accepting an illegal gratuity, on three counts of trying to defraud the Federal Government, on four counts of perjury. She was eventually sentenced on the first two conspiracy counts and ordered to pay $2,500 for each.

President Reagan’s Defence Secretary Caspar Weinberger was fully pardoned by President Bush before he could stand trial for two counts of perjury and one count of obstructing justice for his role in Iran-Contra. He was responsible for selling Hawk missiles to Iran.

John Poindexter, another National Security Advisor, was convicted in 1990 on five charges of lying to Congress by obstructing Congressional investigations into Iran-Contra. His conviction was later overturned due only to the wording of the case against him. President George W Bush later recalled Poindexter to head up DARPA Information Awareness Office. He eventually retired, after proposing a market for future contracts, based on predicting events (such as assassinations) in the Middle East. Former Senator Byron Dorgan said of the idea of the idea:

“The idea of a federal betting parlor on atrocities and terrorism is ridiculous and it’s grotesque.”

Another President Reagan appointee, and President Bush pardonee, is Elliott Abrams. Quite horrifically, Abrams was Reagan’s Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, whilst Human Rights Watch and Amnesty accused Abrams of covering up human rights offences in Latin America. This can be noted, when in 1993, the UN’s Commission on the Truth for El Salvador found that 5000 civilians were rounded up and executed in 1981, whilst being supported by the US. Prior to the ruling, when reports were hitting the US press of executions in El Salvador in the 1980s, Abrams said the reports were misleading, and left wing propaganda.
So good at this position of covering up Reagan’s funding of human rights violators and terrorists, that he was later promoted to Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs. In this role, he was 100 hours community service for his role in Iran-Contra. President Bush Sr pardoned him. President Bush Jr promoted Abrams to Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Democracy, Human Rights, and International Operations at the National Security Council just after taking office in 2001. This is about seven years before Sarah Palin continuously attacked President Obama for “palling up to terrorists” for once maybe having spoken briefly to Bill Ayers. Republican hypocrisy at its finest.

The list goes on; Catalina Vasquez Villalpando, Silvio D. DeBartolomeis, Joseph A. Strauss, Anne Gorsuch Burford, Thomas Demery.

It isn’t just President Reagan’s administration that was deeply corrupt, violent, extreme, and criminal; it was the next Republican President also. President Bush is guilty of pardoning criminal after criminal, simply because he could. They were not treated to the same level of justice that ordinary American citizens are treated to. They were considered above the law, by their powerful friend in the White House. President George W Bush brought a couple of them back into political life. Republican sleaze. If this had all happened in 2013, under President Obama; I dare say Glenn Beck would be holding “Throw Obama in Prison” rallies whilst drawing parallels to Stalin and lack of Jesus in schools; Fox News would be indecipherable through the sound of daily venomous rage; calls for secession because the President is “destroying America” would be even more irritatingly loud; and Congressional Republicans would be trying to impeach at every possible second. Instead, the most aggressively corrupt administration in US history, is ironically, the administration of the conservative hero, President Reagan. Big government wasn’t the problem. Reagan-style government was, and is the problem.