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 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.