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:

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

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:

– 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?

– 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.




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

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

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

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

– YEA…. wait, what?

– 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.

– 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.

Abusing the Filibuster: Some Stats.

November 28, 2013


It has been an interesting week since Harry Reid invoked the nuclear option to ensure Presidential nominees are no longer blocked by an increasingly power-hungry Tea Party minority. From the right of the Republican Party, there appears to be a constant “We’re a republic! Not a democracy!” odd little tantrum, in a curiously weak attempt to justify their horrendous inability to accept that they lost the election. It should be noted that the US is indeed a republic, framed by the Constitution, which, in the case of Congressional rule changes quite clearly states:

“Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member.”
Article 1; Section 5; Clause 2.

– Also, when it comes to Presidential nominees to executive branch positions, the President has that right. As long as those nominees are qualified, they are entitled to be confirmed, with the President shaping his administration as he sees fit. The Senate traditionally is there to advise and consent, to block only in the most extreme of conditions, and not to usurp that power and use it for fringe-partisanship. The filibuster not only gives a voice to the minority (who are entitled to that voice, via debate), it gives that minority far more power than both the majority party in the Senate, and the President combined.

That being said, it’s true that both President Obama and Harry Reid condemned the nuclear option during the Bush administration, whilst Democrats were the minority party in the Senate. But it is equally true, and needless to point out that President Bush wasn’t facing the sheer force of extreme obstructionism facilitated by the filibuster that the Obama White House faces today.

The nuclear option, in short, means that nominees by the executive branch require a simply majority of 51 votes for appointment, rather than the 60 votes needed if filibustered.

So, why did Harry Reid feel that he had to use a procedural measure to prevent further nominee filibustering in the Senate? Well, it’s quite obvious when you look at the past three years.

Let’s start with the most staggering.
Number of Presidential nominees filibustered over the course of US history: 147.
Number of those Presidential nominees filibustered before Obama took office: 68.
Number of those Presidential nominees filibustered since Obama took office: 79.
More than half of all filibustered nominees for executive branch positions – since before the White House was even built – have taken place during President Obama’s five years as President. This stat alone should be more than enough to convince anyone of the need to curb the abuse of power by a minority wing, or a minority party, that could not win the Presidential election, nor the Senate, nor the popular vote for the House. But in case you’re still on the fence, here are a few more stats:

Between 1949 and 2008, 20 cloture votes had been held to end filibusters, and push for a three-fifths majority vote. In 59 years, 20 votes. Between 2008 and 2013 – just five years – cloture has had to be invoked 27 times.

In President Bush’s two terms, the number of cloture votes for Presidential nominees was 7. In President Clinton’s two terms, the cloture votes for Presidential nominees, was 9. By early 2013, 16 of the President’s executive branch nominees had required cloture votes. In one Presidential term alone.

Interestingly, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who seems to have no problem with the obscene amount of obstructionism his party is willing to adopt in preventing the appointment of Presidential nominees, wasn’t too happy with it when the shoe was on the other foot. During the Bush Presidency, McConnell said:

“To correct this abuse, the majority in the Senate is prepared to restore the Senate’s traditions and precedents to ensure that regardless of party, any president’s judicial nominees, after full and fair debate, receive a simple up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. It is time to move away from advise and obstruct and get back to advise and consent.”

– Ironically, McConnell is now the King of the obstruction he harshly condemned in 2005.

Damningly for McConnell, on top of the 16 cloture votes by March 2013, we see the situation getting worse. Between March 2013, and November 2013, a staggering 11 more cloture votes – taking the total to 27 – for executive branch positions were required after being targets of filibusters from Senate Republicans.

75 executive branch nominations, to incredibly important positions, have waited an average of 140 days for confirmation. The obstruction in the Senate, leads to gridlock across agencies. This isn’t just unfair, it is dangerous. There is absolutely no need nor requirement for the Senate to demand a super majority for Presidential nominations.

And that’s just on nominees. Motions to end a filibuster by procedure during George Bush’s term, and when the party in the White House also controlled the Senate stood at 130 over two terms. Over just one term, and six months of President Obama’s Presidency, that number stands at 307. The era of block-over-debate had to come to an end.

These incredibly telling figures represent another wing – after the ill-considered Republican shut down – of the Republican strategy to destabilise the operation of government departments that people count on every day, simply because the election did not go their own way. The nuclear option was both necessary and inevitable. The reaction from the Republican camp to Reid’s decision has been predictable. Harry Reid – they claim – had choked democracy. This was the end of America as we know it. The usual hyperbole.

Strangely, the same Republicans didn’t react with equal venom when on September 30th of this year, House Republicans changed House rules to take the power to end a government shutdown away from all members of the House, and bestow it upon the House Majority Leader only. It’s a curious hypocrisy, but nevertheless completely expected from that section of the delusional right that holds nothing but contempt for democracy when it goes against them.

The United States House of Wall Street.

November 25, 2013

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: Andrés Nieto Porras.

Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Author: Andrés Nieto Porras.

An interesting vote took place in the House of Representatives at the beginning of this month. A vote completely overshadowed by constant Republican tantrums over the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. A vote that has potentially serious consequences in the future.

The Wall Street Reform Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank) included Section 716, which ensured that banks insured Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, move their ‘swaps’ (a certain derivative) into non-bank arms of the business that aren’t insured by FDIC; not eligible for bail out funds. It ensured protection for the consumer’s savings, and ensured protection for the taxpayer, by enforcing banks to place their more risky derivative deals outside of the realm of Federal assistance.

At the end of October 2013, House Resolution 992 passed the House by 292 votes to 122. The Bill – H.R.992 – or The “Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act” – severely limits the reach of Section 716 of Dodd-Frank, ultimately striking down a key regulation that Dodd-Frank implemented back in 2010. The implication, simply put, is that incredibly risky Wall Street behaviour surrounding the dealing of derivatives could be backed by a taxpayer funded bailout – for exchanges that are not at all related to banking – if it all goes wrong again.

Despite the Treasury raising concerns about striking down such an important provision, the House – including many Democrats – voted to pass H.R.922. But why? What is the motivation? Well, one only has to look at the lobbying on this Bill to understand just how this may have come about.

Contributions to House members from interests groups who expressively support H.R.992 are rather eye watering. On the list of top contributions to House Members, Jim Himes (D-CT4) – a co-sponsor of the Bill – received $437,179 from special interests in favour. More than any other Democrat in the House. The second ranking figure in the Democrat House Leadership chain of command, Steny Hoyer (D-MD5) received $266,510 from Wall Street supporters of the Bill. The most expensive ‘Yes’ vote for Wall Street comes to us via Eric Cantor (R-VA7), who received $525,400. The main sponsor of the Bill Randy Hultgren (R-Ill) received more contributions from the Securities and Investment industry than any other industry, at $136,500.

In all, special interests supporting H.R.992 contributed 5.9 times more to House members than those groups that opposed it. Wall Street has been staggeringly influential in ensuring regulations from 2010 are struck down. Citigroup were among the contributors. Citigroup also wrote ‘recommendations’ that appeared to be reflected almost word for word in the final draft of H.R.992. The Citigroup recommendations reads:

(d) Only bona fide hedging and traditional bank activities permitted. The prohibition in subsection (a) shall apply to any covered depository institution unless the covered depository institution limits its swap or security based swap activities to:
(1) Hedging and other similar risk mitigating activities directly related to the covered depository institution’s activities.
(2) Acting as a swaps entity for swaps or security-based swaps that are structured finance swaps, unless–
(i) such structured finance swap is undertaken for hedging or risk management purposes; or
(ii) each asset-backed security underlying such structured finance is of a credit quality and of a type or category with respect to which the prudential regulators have jointly adopted rules authorizing swap or security-based swap activity by covered depository institutions.

– Unsurprisingly, given just how much money Wall Street has spent buying its Congressional support for the Bill, H.R.992 reads:

(A) Hedging and other similar risk mitigation activities.
Hedging and other similar risk mitigating activities directly related to the covered depository institution’s activities.
(B) Non-structured finance swap activities.–
Acting as a swaps entity for swaps or security-based swaps other than a structured finance swap.
(C) Certain structured finance swap activities.
Acting as a swaps entity for swaps or security-based swaps that are structured finance swaps, if–
(i) such structured finance swaps are undertaken for hedging or risk management purposes; or
(ii) each asset-backed security underlying such structured finance swaps is of a credit quality and of a type or category with respect to which the prudential regulators have jointly adopted rules authorizing swap or security-based swap activity by covered depository institutions.

– Practically word for word. In fact, according to the New York Times, 70 of the 85 lines in the Bill were penned by Citigroup. A Bill that deregulates the risky aspects of the financial industry – and spreads the risk of failure and the obscene costs of such, to the taxpayer if it all collapses again – was written by the financial industry. Welcome to the House of Wall Street.

The Bill passed the House, and was referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs at the end of October. It is unlikely to pass the Senate, though if somehow it does, it is unlikely to be signed by the President. The White House has already registered its opposition to the Bill, though stopping short of threatening a veto. It might be worth noting that Jack Lew – current Treasury Secretary – worked as Citigroup’s Chief Operating Officer between 2006 and 2008, overseeing the Alternative Investments unit that invested in a hedge fund that had bet on the housing market to collapse.

The US is still recovering from the destruction wrought by, among others; Citigroup. In 2013, Citigroup and Wall Street have successfully managed to lobby Congress into ensuring that incredibly risky derivatives deals – that helped to cause the problems in the first place – are now fully exposed to a risk of a future bailout. This, despite the Federal Reserve reporting in 2012 that Citigroup was one of four financial institutions to fail its ‘stress test’; a test of the institutions ability to withstand another crisis like that of 2008. Also in 2012, Citigroup had to settle an investor lawsuit for $25,000,000 for allegedly misleading investors over the nature of its mortgage-backed securities. Why on earth is this institution allowed anywhere near the strings of government, to shape policy that has such far reaching implications?

Under such circumstances, Citigroup’s lobbyists must be in for a huge Christmas bonus. They’ve certainly earned it.

A list of things Obamacare leads to…

November 11, 2013

A few months ago I wrote on the absurdities that conservatives tend to invoke when they’re losing an argument that they’ve staked their reputations on. Back then, it was gay marriage. The list of terrible, World ending catastrophes that same-sex marriage was going to inevitably lead to, according to conservatives, was extensive and staggering. But now they’ve moved on to a new subject. And so I thought I’d present a comprehensive list of the most outlandish and absurd suggestions that US conservatives have decided are the product of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act:

  • A Communist takeover of government and the end of the Catholic Church in the US. Here.
  • Following the path of Hitler (you know, the guy who killed 6,000,000 Jewish people in gas chambers, and tried to establish a “racially pure” empire) and Stalin. here.
  • Worse than Watergate. Here.
  • Worse thing since slavery. Here.
  • Armageddon. Here.
  • President Obama killing a variety of old people. Here.
  • Kids having secret abortions at school ‘sex clinic’. Here.
  • The most dangerous piece of legislation EVER passed. Here.
  • President Obama starting a race war. Here.
  • The death of all prosperity. Here.
  • Mandatory microchips implanted into all Americans. Here.
  • The destruction of the institution of marriage. Here.
  • The work of Satan seeking to destroy freedom. Here.
  • Obamacare causes cancer. Here.
  • The reintroduction of Feudalism. Here
  • The Government murdering people based on how productive they are, and children with Down Syndrome being judged by a panel on whether he or she can live or die. Here.
  • Conservatives sent to concentration camps. Here.
  • The US becoming a leading outpost of an Islamic Caliphate. Here.
  • Health insurance companies going along with the Affordable Care Act, are no different to Jews boarding the trains to concentration camps. Here.
  • Systematic genocide. Here.
  • As destructive to personal liberty as runaway slaves being forced to go back to their masters. here.
  • A racist tax against white people. Here.
  • Worse than the Boston bombing. Here.
  • A gay man going to prison because he has no money, and is forced to play roulette, because of Obamacare. Here.
  • Schools preparing children to accept Death Panels. Here.

    Naturally none of them mention the exact part of the bill that lead to their outlandish claim.

    When I began this, I didn’t expect the list to be as long as it eventually turned out to be. We are apparently a generation that is gifted with access to information and fact on a level no previous generation has enjoyed. And yet, it seems that facts and reasoned debate are often drowned out by a deafening constant screech of absurdity that creates an atmosphere in which Michelle Bachmann and Ted Cruz are trusted with political power. They represent nothing more than a comprehensive failure of education and access to accurate information in order to form rational and well rounded democratic decisions. What a waste of a wonderful gift.

  • The Tea Party: In the shadow on the Confederacy.

    October 10, 2013

    The Signing of the Constitution. By Thomas Rossiter.

    The Signing of the Constitution. By Thomas Rossiter.

    As the days turn into weeks, the US shutdown edges no closer to being resolved. Polls consistently show that the public believe the Republican Party shoulders most of the blame for the chaos and the threat of default. Moderate Republicans join the growing chorus of disapproval of the shutdown and takeover by a small fringe group of well funded Tea Party Senators and House members. But it isn’t just the public, Democrats, the President, the courts, and moderate Republicans who blame the Tea Party faction for the shutdown, the Tea Party doesn’t seem to have the Constitution on its side either.

    The Constitution of the United States is a work of genius. Largely influenced by James Madison’s brilliance for applying enlightenment philosophy to practical politics, and moderating the thoughts of Jefferson (who wished for the Constitution and all laws to be replaced every ‘generation’; 35 years) and the ideas of Hamilton (who pushed for a President elected for life); the Constitution ensures the minority cannot and should not be allowed to dictate policy on threat of economic or political catastrophe. The delegates to the Constitutional convention knew that the Constitution must be adaptable to the progress of US society beyond their own lifetime, and so amendments were the answer. The Founding generation – though they knew the threat loomed heavily – could not have accounted for the Constitutional issues that would arise when a Civil War eventually proved the biggest threat to the Union. One of which, was the debt.

    The Fourteenth Amendment is one of those Constitutional Amendments that isn’t ambiguous. There isn’t much room for discussion or debate over its legitimate meaning. Section 4:

    “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”

    – The validity of public debt shall not be questioned. The Amendment was passed in 1868, as a result of political wrangling in a Congress worried that the public debt would be used as a weapon by southern States for reconstruction concessions in social and economic spheres of influence. The 14th Amendment put a stop to that threat. The South reacted bitterly to all of the 14th’s provisions (including section 4), refusing to ratify it. They wished to use the threat of the debt, to force the US government to bend to their will, despite losing an election, and a war. The South was eventually forced to sign up, with threat of exclusion from representation in the United States Congress, if they refused. The 14th Amendment was an attempt to prevent the minority – and those who lose elections – from seeking to rule on their own terms. And it worked, until today.

    It would appear with the threat of default looming on the horizon, the Republican Party has decided that the wording of the 14th is not clear enough, choosing instead to openly and proudly use the public debt as a weapon to extract concessions that they didn’t manage to win through the electoral process. It took over 140 years, but we cannot be under any illusion; as they move further to the right, the Republicans have spent the past few years channelling the spirit of the Confederacy when it comes to voter suppression, when it comes to subtle hints at secession upon the election of a candidate they didn’t like, and now in seeking to use the debt ceiling as a way to defund and delay an established, Constitutional law.

    On the validity of the 14th Amendment, Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes wrote in 1935:

    “While this provision was undoubtedly inspired by the desire to put beyond question the obligations of the government issued during the Civil War, its language indicates a broader connotation. Nor can we perceive any reason for not considering the expression ‘the validity of the public debt’ as embracing whatever concerns the integrity of the public obligations.”

    – It is all embracing. It isn’t questionable. It should not be used as a tool for partisan point scoring.

    Section 5 of the 14th Amendment tells us exactly which branch of government is in charge of ensuring the 14th Amendment is carried through:

    “The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”

    – It is Congress’s job to ensure that the validity of the public debt of the United States is not questioned. The historical context of the Amendment is such, that the Amendment was specifically designed to prevent the threat of default unless concessions are met. This isn’t new money the President is asking for, it is money already spent, debts already incurred. It is House Republicans refusing to pay the bills unless they get what they want. And whilst Speaker Boehner is right in that the debt ceiling has been used by both parties as a bargaining chip before, it has never been used to threaten closure of government and default on debts.

    The President has no power to invoke the 14th Amendment to unilaterally incur and pay the US’s debts. The constitutional crisis caused by such a move by the President, may well prove to be more damaging than the threat of default itself. The President has been clear; the 14th Amendment does not allow him the power to raise the debt ceiling himself.

    To this end, the Republicans know just how dangerous the course they have chosen is. This isn’t a negotiation. This is a threat of force. In 2011 Standard & Poor’s Credit Rating Agency issued the following statement:

    “Since we revised the outlook on our ‘AAA’ long-term rating to negative from stable on April 18, 2011, the political debate about the U.S.’ fiscal stance and the related issue of the U.S. government debt ceiling has, in our view, only become more entangled. Despite months of negotiations, the two sides remain at odds on fundamental fiscal policy issues. Consequently, we believe there is an increasing risk of a substantial policy stalemate enduring beyond any near-term agreement to raise the debt ceiling. As a consequence, we now believe that we could lower our ratings on the U.S. within three months.”

    – They are quite clear. The debt itself is not what will lead ratings agencies to lower the US’s Credit Rating. It is the politics of the debt ceiling and continued threat of political instability. This instability is driven by a small group of highly financed Republicans, distrusted and disliked not just by the American people and the Democrat Party, but also by their own colleagues. Whilst this is true, the instability is also the product of a lack of clarity on just which branch of government is responsible for ensuring payment of public debt, and if it is constitutional to use the payment of the public debt as political leverage. It is quite clear that the Republicans are using that lack of clarity for political posturing and to circumnavigate the democratic process that didn’t go the way they wanted. If this isn’t the use of force to extract concessions and hinder the stability of Constitutional, democratic government, the entire economy, and the will of the people in the United States, I don’t know what is. In theory, a law exists to deal with that threat:

    “If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.”

    – There are several reasons here why I would argue that the Republicans in Congress have already openly played loose with this law. Firstly, the use of the tactic of closing down the government, by attempting to hinder, and delay the execution of the Affordable Care Act – a law passed by Congress, signed by the President, and upheld by the Supreme Court. Secondly, by attempting to prevent, hinder, or delay the payment of debts that the 14th Amendment insists shall not be questioned, and shall be enforced by Congress. And thirdly, the word “conspire” is key, especially given the months of planning that this shutdown has seemingly involved. The legal framework of the United States has been completely disregarded by a very small fringe right-winged movement that cannot abide elections that they did not win, and constitutional laws that they do not like.

    Whether or not the Republican Party has broken, or cleverly maneuvered its way around Federal laws, is up for debate. The period of reconstruction attempted to set straight the Southern treat of using the debt as a bargaining chip, with the 14th Amendment. Today that democratic idea is being challenged by the children of the Confederacy. Reason dictates that if a small band of fringe Congressional representatives are able to close down the government, threaten economic disaster, unless a concession is made to defund or delay a law that the American people largely voted on in 2012, that was passed by Congress, signed by the President, and upheld by the Judiciary – all three branches of government – then something is seriously wrong with a democratic framework that allows for such a vicious tactic.

    The US Government Shutdown: A coup in all but name.

    October 9, 2013

    Closed Lincoln Memorial. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: By Emw (Own work).

    Closed Lincoln Memorial.
    Source: Wikimedia Commons.
    Author: By Emw (Own work).

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

    In an interview on ‘Face The Nation’ with Republican Senator for Texas John Cornyn, host Bob Schieffer asked:

    “How is it that you wind up with a freshman Senator, who’s been in office less than a year, becomes the architect of this thing that has the two sides so gridlocked that nobody seems to know a way out of it? How did that happen?”

    – Whilst it’s a fair question, it makes one critical mistake. Senator Cruz wasn’t the architect of the shutdown. Of course one freshman Senator doesn’t have the power or influence to shut down and gridlock the entire US government. But his wealthy contributors and backers certainly do.

    When President Obama was reelected in 2012, democracy had spoken. A government of the people, for the people, and by the people had been chosen, with Obamacare a key policy in the minds of voters as they had their rightful say in voting booths across the country. Recently, Republican Senator John McCain accepted and reiterated this:

    “We fought as hard as we could in a fair and honest manner and we lost. One of the reasons was because we were in the minority, and in democracies, almost always the majority governs and passes legislation.”

    – But notoriously, democracy and people are never equipped to be able to compete with vast amounts of money from very wealthy backers. Knowing this, “Freedom Works”, a major donor to the ‘Freedom Works For America’ super pac and affiliated with the Koch empire produced a memo on a strategy to disregard the democratic process, and defund the Affordable Care Act by any means necessary. The memo read:

    “Conservatives should not approve a CR unless it defunds Obamacare. This includes Obamacare’s unworkable exchanges, unsustainable Medicaid expansion, and attack on life and religious liberty.”

    – The memo goes on to suggest strategy (identical to the tactics used during this shutdown):

    “A mere “date-change CR” is unacceptable. Although the Obama administration and others will argue the CR is not the appropriate legislative vehicle to defund Obamacare, it is easily done through a series of appropriation riders. Because the CR represents one of the best vehicles possible to delay the implementation of Obamacare, it must not be used to bargain on the upcoming sequester.”

    – This was shortly after President Obama’s re-election. The plan was always to use the threat of government shutdown, to defund a law that had just been ratified by the American people via an election, for the sake of the policy of one organisation rather than the votes of millions of American people. There was to be no backing down. The authority of the voting public and the Supreme Court of the United States were to be overridden. Democracy hadn’t worked for them, so they produced a solution to completely disregard the democratic process. For this sickening, entirely anti-democratic goal, they needed a candidate. Well, during the 2011 primary for the Texas Senate race, Freedom Works said:

    “After evaluating the candidates in this race, we believe that Ted Cruz will best serve the interests of hardworking Texas taxpayers by advocating the principles of lower taxes, less government and more individual freedom”

    – They chose a candidate likely to run at the White House in 2016. One of “Freedom Works For America’s” main financers is Crow Holdings, LLC. Crow Holdings has contributed $20,000 to Senator Cruz so far for 2014. This, on top of the $25,000 from Koch industries. One of the those who signed the Freedom Works memo above was Chris Chocola, President of “Club for Growth”. “Club for Growth” has contributed the most of all Cruz’s campaign contributors at a staggering $705,657. Another signee was David Bossie, President of Citizen’s United. Citizen’s United have so far contributed $15,000 to Cruz.

    Of course, it helps that alongside campaign finance, those wealthy backers can afford to produce widespread and misleading ads in order to convince people to vote for their bought candidate. Generation Opportunity is a legally “nonpartisan” organisation funded by the Koch brothers, that produced the despicably misleading ‘creepy Uncle Sam’ anti-Obamacare ads in which Uncle Sam pops up between a woman’s legs during a gynecological exam. On a related side note… Ted Cruz voted no on reauthorising the Violence Against Women Act.

    So if you were wondering what constituency Ted Cruz is in the Senate to represent…it isn’t a ‘grass roots movement’, it’s the extremely wealthy Freedom Works For America & associates. Big business bought their candidate at the primary stage of the Texas Senate race, a candidate willing to do the bidding of ‘Freedom Works For America’ and its associates; a candidate who would not worry about the Speaker of his own Party; a candidate willing to disregard the will of the American people, and represent good value for money by ensuring that he use the CR to infect the entire country with the policy of a very small fringe movement.

    Polls across America show that the public blame the Republicans for the government shutdown, far more than they blame Senate Democrats & President Obama. And that reflects reality. It is difficult to blame any group other than the Republican Party, when even Republicans blame their own Party for the shutdown. Fox News analyst Dick Morris before the shutdown joyfully insisted:

    “Now there’s gonna be, there’s going to be a government shutdown, just like in ’95 and ’96 but we’re going to win it this time!”

    – The same Dick Morris that predicted a landslide Romney Presidential win in 2012 appears not to have noticed that the prediction he made, was so wildly off mark. On his website, he acknowledges that Speaker Boehner is the one who is responsible for the continued shutdown. Morris says:

    “The dye is now cast. The battle lines are drawn. Boehner has refused to reopen the government or raise the debt limit without concessions from Obama. What began as a foolish government shutdown to try to end ObamaCare is now morphing into a serious, and likely successful, attempt to rein in the ObamaCare cost, cut government entitlements, and hold the line on taxes.
    Finally, the Republicans in the House have gotten it right.
    They deserve our full support.”

    – Yes. The Republicans have chosen to disregard the legislative process, and the public’s rejection of their 2012 platform, by just choosing to pretend 2012 didn’t happen, and relying on candidates wholly owned by big business. Dick Morris fully acknowledges that there would be a forced GOP shutdown, and that Speaker Boehner is the one who could end it.

    In 2010 – three years ago – Senator Mike Lee of Utah was asked if he would endorse a government shutdown over the debt limit. Lee replied:

    “It’s an inconvenience, it would be frustrating to many, many people and it’s not a great thing, and yet at the same time, it’s not something that we can rule out, it may be absolutely necessary.”

    – This is how very wealthy members of Tea Party sect of the Republican Party view a shut down. As simply an ‘inconvenience’ for those furloughed. Here, Lee accepts responsibility for the government shutdown that is happening right now, three years ago.

    New York Republican Rep. Peter King has been a vocal opponent of his Republican colleagues shut down tactic. A day after a House Republican private strategy meeting, King appeared on MSNBCs Hardball and said:

    “This was a fool’s errand that was started by Ted Cruz. But we can’t just blame him. We have to also blame his acolytes in the Republican Conference—30 or 40 of them who stood with him, who were willing to undo what John Boehner wanted to do, which was to pass the CR, move this along. They insisted on going this route of attempting to defund Obamacare and threatening to shut down the government if it wasn’t done, we got locked into this. Let me just say we are where we are, and I blame Ted Cruz and his supporters for doing that.”

    – King’s point here has two important features. Firstly, Ted Cruz and a small group of Tea Partiers are entirely to blame for the government shutdown. Secondly, Speaker Boehner didn’t plan on taking this route. Which suggests, he is now just a puppet on a Tea Party string. The Republican Party is in the midst of a civil war.

    King is adamant that there are a lot of moderate Republicans willing to vote on a clean CR, and who oppose the Cruz tactic bought by the Koch Empire. 21 House Republicans so far. But most aren’t willing to go public with how they disapprove of the Koch-led tactics to bring government to a close, for the simple reason that they will get primaried. They are willing to admit it too. Greg Walden (R-OR) said:

    “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.”

    – And he’s right. It isn’t just the President, Democrats, and the American people in general under attack at the moment. It’s Republicans themselves. The ‘Freedom Works For America’ website openly targets Republicans who they do not consider Tea Party enough:

    “The 2014 race for control of the Senate has already begun. Establishment Republicans are beginning to recruit moderate Big Government candidates in races across the country in a typical top-down approach. This approach has led to moderate losing candidates like Tommy Thompson (WI), Rick Berg (ND), and Danny Rehberg (MT) in 2012. We can’t let these opponents of fiscal conservatism win!”

    Another Tea Party favourite, Texas Representative Louie Gohmert (who is no stranger to ridiculous remarks) said in 2010:

    “Listen, if it takes a shutdown of government to stop the runaway spending, we owe that to our children and our grandchildren. I don’t have any grandchildren yet, but if we don’t stop the runaway spending – even if it means showing how serious we are –okay, government is going to have to shut down until you runaway-spending people get it under control. And if you can’t get it under control, then we just stop government until you realize, you know, yes we can.”

    – Gohmert sees no alternative but to shut down the government unless Republicans get their way. He fully acknowledges that this is a viable Republican tactic.

    They acknowledge the tactic in 2010, they acknowledge it again in 2013, they threaten Republican colleagues not tied to wealthy far-right backers and who privately (and some publicly) blame this small sect of Tea Party Republicans for the shutdown. There is no debate over who is to blame for government shutdown. A framework for shutdown was articulated by Republicans – sometimes excitedly – in 2010, and codified by a wealthy conservative fringe group and their associates in 2013. It is a coup in all but name.

    Those times the GOP didn’t threaten government shutdown.

    September 28, 2013

    Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: By Keith Ellison from Minneapolis, USA.

    Source: Wikimedia Commons.
    Author: Keith Ellison from Minneapolis, USA.

    It is becoming increasingly obvious that Republicans simply do not like to lose. They cannot abide it. They lost the Senate, they lost the popular vote for the House of Representatives, and with Obamacare a big part of the 2012 Presidential election… they lost that too. Their record in the White House since the turn of the century was horrendous, Red States tend to be the highest for poverty and the uninsured, and yet they still demand to be taken as a credible alternative to a President who is shrinking the deficit the fastest since World War II, and helping those with pre-existing conditions get coverage. It is difficult for Republicans to accept that the Democratic President has achieved more in just four years, than the Republican Party has achieved in decades.

    So, what in the past, hasn’t made the Republican Party decide they wish to close down government? Well:

    The Republicans didn’t threaten to close down government, for the massive Bush deficit:
    In 2001, the CBO announced that the Clinton surplus of $280 billion would lead to a surplus of $5.9tn by 2011. After 8 years of Bush, that number was actually -$6tn. Two wars, massive failed tax cuts and a recession later – all of which, Tea Party Republicans appear to have been asleep throughout – and most (over 60%) believe the deficit is growing under Obama. In fact, the deficit is shrinking under Obama, and pretty rapidly. Down 37.6% for the first 10 months of the fiscal year. Look at all of those deficit years. All Republican. Except for since 2008, with the deficit falling rapidly, under a Democrat.

    screen shot 2013-01-20 at 5.48.24 am
    – Can you imagine how Republicans would have reacted had the Party that inherited the deficit in ’92, and again in ’08 been Republican? The President would be hailed as a great success. The saviour of the US economy from the dark days that came before.

    Republicans didn’t feel the need to register their disgust at the President’s indifference to Osama Bin Laden:
    Can you imagine the outrage across Republican America if six months after the biggest terrorist attack on US soil, in which thousands of Americans died, the President on National TV, tells the country that when it comes to Osama Bin Laden:

    “I don’t know where he is and you know I don’t spend that much time on him really”.

    – Can you imagine the outrage if President Obama had said that? If President Obama had said of Benghazi: “You know, I just don’t spend much time on it really” Fox – after visibly exploding with fury live on TV – would spend days discussing just how much President Obama must hate America. Twitter would be a gathering of Americans with Eagles as their profile picture, demanding impeachment for anti-American hate. Can you imagine the Republican reaction, if ten years after the previous President not spending much time catching the man responsible for 3000 American deaths, a Republican President was the Commander-in-Chief when Osama Bin Laden is tracked down and caught? He would be hailed as the saviour of the economy, and the man who brought justice for 9/11. Instead, they are charging President Obama with weakness, over his incredible diplomacy tactic with Iran and Syria.

    The Republicans had absolutely no problem with warrantless wiretapping & The Patriot Act:
    Can you imagine the storm of shit that would be kicked up had warrantless wiretapping, and The Patriot Act been an Act conceived by the Obama Administration? I shudder to think how many comparisons to Orwell’s 1984 we would be presented with. Badly Photoshopped images of Obama as Stalin would flood social media. How did Republicans react when The Patriot Act was conceived and then passed by Republicans? With complete indifference.

    Republicans didn’t threaten government shut down for Republican mistreating of veterans:
    If you voted Bush in 2004, whilst displaying a “We support our troops!” bumper sticker, perhaps it’s time to rethink your allegiances; If President Obama’s healthcare plan involved cuts to veterans care, I can say with some degree of certainty that the reaction from Republicans would range from “He hates American soldiers! Impeach NOW!” to… “He’s letting the Terrorists win! It’s a conspiracy!”. And yet, had the Republicans returned to power in 2008, the budget for Veterans care – at the precise time most were coming home from Iraq & Afghanistan – was intended to be slashed. Due to previous cuts to Veterans affairs, centers were closing down, and queues for care became over burdensome due to those cuts. The Administration proposed further cuts. According to the “VA Health Care Funding Alert,” Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States Press Release, January 31, 2003; 200,000 veterans were having to wait over six months for a medical visit, due to health care shortages. Can you imagine the Republican response if ‘Obamacare’ included a section dedicated to making it far more difficult for veterans to get healthcare? Ted Cruz would have had a lot more to talk about in his speech that included absolutely nothing of interest.

    Well, according to a study released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Obamacare will enable 630,000 uninsured veterans to qualify for the expanded Medicaid program, and an extra 520,000 veterans qualify for subsidised health insurance coverage.

    This comes at the same time as Republicans in Congress voted to throw 170,000 veterans off of food stamps, with their horrific cut to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by $40 billion over 10 years. Essentially, they created the deficit with two wars, and now they wish to turn their backs on those who fought the wars, by making the most vulnerable of veterans pay for it.
    Republicans failed veterans, the Obama administration is putting that right.

    Republicans had no problem with the President sitting idly by as New Orleans drowned:
    I imagine that had the President reacted to Hurricane Sandy in New York, as his predecessor reacted to New Orleans after Katrina certain right winged media outlets would be insisting on playing video after video of lower Manhattan drowning as the President does nothing. Select Committees would pop up after right winged calls for immediate inquiries into the negligence of the President and his lack of care for American lives. The banging of the impeachment drum would be deafening. What happened when Bush completely mishandled the aftermath of Katrina, with a lack of preparation, emergency aid and reconstruction….. Republicans said nothing.

    Republicans registered no anger at the joy the Bush administration took from outsourcing jobs abroad.

    “I think outsourcing is a growing phenomenon, but it’s something that we should realize is probably a plus for the economy in the long run”.

    – I’d imagine the response would include Tea Party protestations daily about how the President is wilfully killing the American Middle Class, like a crazy out of control Marxist.

    Republicans didn’t and still don’t have a problem with growing numbers of uninsured children:
    We all know how Republicans feel about ‘Obamacare’. I think there is a distinct possibility that their main problem with the health reforms, are that they involve the words ‘Obama’ & ‘care’. The former being a figure of hate regardless of what he says and does, and the latter being a concept that has eluded Republicans for generations. We should perhaps begin referring to the period between 2001 and 2008, as ‘BushPoverty’ (and if we’re in Texas, we may call it CruzPoverty, given his horrendous record). It’s a phrase Republicans can get on board with, because they remained particularly silent when the Census Bureau report noted that when Clinton left office, the number of uninsured Americans stood at 38.4 million… but when Bush left office, not only had median incomes fallen, the deficit risen, and poverty spiked, but the number of uninsured people in the US rose to 46.3 million. A 20.6% increase. That’s the record of a Party that now insist we consider them to be the rightful authorities on healthcare in America. Can you imagine how Republicans would have reacted if under a Democratic President, in just 8 years the number of uninsured rose by 20%, poverty spiked, and the median income plummeted? ……. Actually, they’d probably hail it a success.

    Republicans didn’t threaten to shut down government over: A misleading argument taking the country to war, the massive deficit incurred because of the misleading arguments taking the country to war, a $6tn deficit, the hailing of outsourcing jobs to be great for the country, the drowning of New Orleans, impoverishing veterans, the worst job creation record in decades, the flippant dismissal of attempts to track down the World’s most wanted terrorist responsible for thousands of American lives lost, the Patriot Act, the 20% increase in those living without insurance, the drop in median incomes, the rise in child poverty.

    Republicans do threaten to shut down government over: Insurance for kids with pre-existing conditions.
    Good job Republicans. Good job.

    The Republican Party: Wealth before Health.

    September 20, 2013

    Earlier this month a booth at the Kentucky State Fair offered people the chance to sign up to ‘Kynect’ the new healthcare coverage facility for Kentucky. It was an incredibly popular booth, with one Republican gentleman who was told he would qualify for tax credits to purchase insurance, commenting:

    “This beats Obamacare, I hope.”

    – What he didn’t realise, due to all the misinformation and complete myths invented by the Republicans over the past two years…. Kynect is a part of ‘Obamacare’.

    Today, very wealthy, insured Republicans in the House voted to make certain that the most vulnerable, uninsured, struggling people – including children – cannot get access to affordable healthcare. They voted to ensure that women cannot get access to preventative care. These are the same Republicans who also voted against the Violence Against Women Act, and against Veterans jobs bills, but voted to continue tax breaks for big oil. This is the Republican Party in the 21st Century.

    After the House vote, Speaker John Boehner said:

    “The American people don’t want the government shut down, and they don’t want Obamacare”.

    – John Boehner, heroically defending democratic accountability. Well, not so much. If he is to insist that he cares deeply for the will of the American people, he should perhaps take a look at how those people voted in 2012:

    For the Presidency 2012:
    Democrats: 65,915,796
    Republicans: 60,933,500

    For the House 2012:
    Democrats: 60,252,696
    Republicans: 58,541,130
    Republican vote down by 4.8%

    For the Senate 2012:
    Democrats: 49,998,693
    Republicans: 39,130,984
    Republican vote down by 7.3%

    – In each case, the American people did not want the Republicans to have the power that they currently have. So perhaps the Speaker of the House should pay attention to his own logic, and stop wielding undemocratic power. If your Party lost the popular vote for the two branches of elected power… be a little humble, rather than trying to control the entire country. The only reason the government will be shut down, is if one Party that did not win the popular vote for any branch of power continues its spree of blackmail.

    According to a Harvard Study in 2009, 45,000 annual deaths are connected to a lack of healthcare coverage. It further notes that lack of insurance now kills more people than kidney disease. Today, Republicans voted to ensure the apparently very important freedom to lose everything you have if you get cancer, and then to die bankrupt. Republican supporters are out in force hailing their victory:


    There are two Tea Party-esque contentions that appear in most anti-Obamcare arguments. Firstly, that the Affordable Care Act is inherently “Marxist”, and secondly, the Affordable Care Act is government compulsion and therefore, tyrannical. Both are supremely over dramatic, that you begin to wonder who takes it seriously. Especially given that the Affordable Care Act is based largely on a Republican law implemented (and working great) in Massachusetts. Myths have been invented by the Republicans, that are easily discredited. I discredit three Affordable Care Act myths here. All completely over-dramatic and over simplified. But, given that the House is currently controlled by the most over-dramatic faction of one Party (but still didn’t win the popular vote), it must be taken seriously.

    It is the first time I have heard the making certain that people purchase Capitalist health insurance, from Capitalists, with money that will go to Capitalist hospitals and corporations, described as Marxist. I can say with much confidence that Marx might have disagreed with this contention a little. Unless I missed the part where the Affordable Care Act calls for worker control of the means of production and distribution, the end of the wage system, and abolition of private property, and profit…. it isn’t Marxism.
    The Founders recognised the importance of a healthy population, and the role government can play in ensuring that. By Tea Party logic, The Congress of 1798, under the Presidency of John Adams were Marxists. That particular Congress & President signed into law “An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen.” Article 1 referring to the private owners of ships and vessels:

    “..and he shall pay, to the said collector, at the rate of twenty cents per month for every seaman so employed ; which sum he is hereby authorized to retain out of the wages of such seamen.”

    – This act created government run hospitals for privately employed sailors, paid for by a mandatory (compulsory, or “Marxist” if you’re a member of the Tea Party) tax on sailors. Not only do we have one Founder – the President – signing off on a government run healthcare program, but another Founder, Thomas Jefferson was President of the Senate at this point, and so we can reasonably assume that both Jefferson and Adams had no problem with government running healthcare programs, paid for by a mandatory tax, that sailors had no choice but to pay.

    The second contention has a little more to it, though is still wildly off the mark and deeply flawed in its premise. The contention being, that Obamacare is government compulsion, and that regardless of the context, government compulsion is “tyranny”. This would of course mean that any form of government interference is ‘tyranny’; medicare, public funded schools, public funded roads, public funded police & fire. All of which paid for, whether the individual wishes to or not. Will Republicans be insisting that these are also “Marxist” in need of defunding? What about the Advanced Technology Program, and other taxpayer funded programs to subsidise business? Will Republicans be voting to repeal these?

    The Federal agency; Export-Import Bank loaned $2.5 billion to General Electric at a time when the company reduced the size of its workforce by over 200,000 American jobs, and shipped more abroad. The same is true of General Motors. And of course, thanks to tax breaks for big oil, those companies can afford to fund the vote of Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who unsurprisingly votes in their favour every time. See here. Did taxpayers get a say on this? No. Has this Republican House voted to end any sort of Corporate welfare? No. They are instead completely focused on ensuring the women cannot access preventative care, that children with pre-existing conditions continue to be left to suffer.

    Curiously, one Republican who objects to the ‘compulsion’ element of the Affordable Care Act, is Republican Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker. This, despite the fact that 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 she wants it or not. The Republicans; keep government out of everything…. except a woman’s virgina, obviously.

    A program should be judged on its effectiveness, and its results. Is Obamacare compulsion? Yes. But so is government in general, so is Social Security, so is Medicare, so is fire protection, defence spending, policing, public schools and roads. There is no reason why healthcare should not be considered a protection in much the same way as fire and police. Context is required for each situation. Simply yelling “compulsion!” isn’t good enough.

    Prior to the Affordable Care Act, the system disincentivised those less wealthy, but who wished to start their own business, through fear of losing health coverage. It just wasn’t worth the risk. The tyranny of health insurance. But now, according to the Urban Institute, those wishing to leave their work and start a business have far more incentive, and freedom to do so, because the Affordable Care Act will offer coverage starting in October that just didn’t exist before, and so far more people will have the incentive to self-employment, and wont be victimised for pre-existing conditions. It is already having a positive effect in Massachusetts. This is freedom enhancing, it is good for the economy, and the complete antithesis of Marxism.

    Secondly, when the ‘choice’ is between ill health, or bankruptcy and poverty, it isn’t a choice. It is insurance company mandated poverty. Healthcare is not a commodity on a level equal to for example, a TV or phones or lemonade. Health is vital, it transcends economic and political systems, and is a necessity, not a luxury. If the government required you to buy a TV on threat of punishment, perhaps the case for “tyranny” may be a little stronger. What is far more tyrannical, is the influence of the compulsion for profit at the expense of the life of the person. What is more tyrannical, is the exclusion of vulnerable children from insurance, if it cuts into an insurance company’s profitability. There is no choice for those uninsured. Those children don’t have a choice. Those with pre-existing conditions didn’t have a choice. They aren’t choosing to remain uninsured and highly vulnerable, in the same way that someone has a choice between a Samsung phone, and a Sony phone. There are no benefits to being uninsured. It isn’t a free choice, it is putting your life completely at the mercy of financial circumstance. To pass it off as choice, or freedom, is incredibly insensitive to the struggles of those who suffered from being uninsured.

    In lieu of a national healthcare system (which we in the UK are incredibly lucky to enjoy) Health insurance companies have a duty, far beyond private companies that make TVs or cars or guitars, to ensure the most affordable and satisfactory care possible; especially when it involves the most vulnerable including children and those with pre-existing conditions. They hold the lives of people in their company wallets. It is this duty that health insurers did not care too much for. It is a tyranny of profit.

    It is the tyranny of profit in a sector that it should not be involved in. That tyranny of profit lead to horrendous insurance company abuses & the exclusion of those with pre-existing conditions. The tyranny of profit lead to companies ensuring they squeezed ordinary people for as much money as possible and offered very little coverage in return. The tyranny of profit lead to 60% of bankruptcies attributed to healthcare costs. The tyranny of profit meant that people suffered and died, because they could not afford insurance. The tyranny of profit lead to insurance companies denying children care…. children. The tyranny of profit ensured that on average insurance companies charged women 50% more than men for the same level of coverage. The tyranny of profit ensured insurance companies were not required to provide preventative care. The tyranny of profit lead to multiple family members suddenly seeing empty bank accounts, loss of homes, loss of hope, just to carry on being alive. And this isn’t compulsion to you? If a person cannot afford health insurance…. they have no choice if they suddenly get sick or injured. This isn’t a choice between what TV to own, this is a choice between suffering physically, or bankruptcy and poverty. That isn’t an acceptable choice. The tyranny of profit ensured this. Those 48 million uninsured did not choose to be uninsured. It wasn’t a well balanced, reasonably arrived at decision, it was compulsion. The tyranny already well established. The Affordable Care Act goes someway to addressing those inherent tyrannical flaws within the system; like prohibiting the truly vile practice of excluding children with pre-existing conditions. It has much further to go, until a universal healthcare system ensures coverage for all regardless of wealth; the mark of a civilised, decent, and caring society cannot be met by the tyranny of profit in a sector it doesn’t belong.

    The President must step up and show leadership, because when it becomes clear that one extreme section of one Party is focussed entirely on attacking the President regardless of the outcome for Americans across the country; when that one extreme faction is willing to place the health of vulnerable children into the line of fire and smile whilst they watch the Country burn… the President is in a strong position to fight back.

    The Republican Party did not win the Presidency, they did not win the Senate, they lost the popular vote for the House, they have no problem with corporate welfare, and they now vote not only to defund the Affordable Care Act, but to shut down government, unless their unelected demands are met. This undemocratic blackmail bought and owned by big business, is far more tyrannical than anything the Democrats could conceive.

    The Republican Party: Of the Rich, By the Rich, For the Rich.

    Painting Congress Blue 2014: Focus on Candidates.

    September 3, 2013


    The US is still over a year away from the House elections in 2014, and having picked up just seven more seats in 2012 from 2010, it will be an uphill battle if the Democrats are going to grab the 17 seats of the 435 up for grabs, needed to secure a majority in the House in 2014.

    That isn’t to say that it is impossible for Democrats to secure a much needed majority. There are some promising candidates pushing for a victory in 2014. I will focus on two Congressional races in this article.

    West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District:
    Firstly, former Chairman of West Virginia’s State Democrats Nick Casey. Casey is a candidate running for West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. The open seat will be vacated by Republican Shelley Moore Capito, who will be running for the Senate seat. On Casey’s campaign website, it is clear that a jobs plan is a priority, and rightfully so given that West Virginia as a whole has a 6.2% unemployment rate (15th highest in the US), with counties in the 2nd Congressional District having some of the highest rates of unemployment in the State. Casey’s website says:

    “My campaign will focus on energy, infrastructure and the jobs they generate. Jobs repairing and expanding our roads, bridges, internet coverage, and essential infrastructure will help our entire economy grow. Right now in the Second Congressional District we have partially-finished projects. I’m talking about Route 35, Corridor H, Route 9 and other similar projects. Each of these are more than halfway finished and the remaining segments are already designed. Let’s finish these critical projects now, not in 20 or 30 years.”

    – Given that Shelley Moore Capito has represented the district since 2001, with projects left unfinished, energy left untapped, and unemployment still high, it seems time for a change. It will be a struggle to win over a conservative leaning district in which President Obama lost every county in 2012, but with a clear focus on jobs, and on breaking the deadlock in Washington, Casey’s moderate, common sense approach could very well take the seat.

    Colorado’s 6th Congressional District Race:
    Less safe for Republicans in 2014, will be Colorado’s 6th Congressional District, which, since redistricting, has become a seat that could go either way. The swing seat is a battle between liberal Aurora and conservative Highlands Ranch. The Representative for Colorado’s 6th, is currently Republican Mike Coffman. Coffman is one of those Republicans that alienates those who aren’t exactly like him:

    “I don’t know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. I don’t know that. But I do know this, that in his heart, he’s not an American. He’s just not an American.”

    – Not only is he questioning the President’s place of birth in a show of Donald Trump-esque non-reason, Coffman is also sure that the President, in his heart, is unAmerican. He of course doesn’t define what ‘being American’ means, and why the President doesn’t fit that definition, just that he is ‘unAmerican’ in ‘his heart’. No focus on issues, just on needless abuse. He also suggested that the President might use the military and an overseas conflict to help him win the election in 2012. And last week, whilst Congressional Republicans were demanding the President seek Congressional approval for a strike on Syria, upon hearing that that’s exactly what the President would do, Coffman changed position:

    “The Assad government has had all the time in the world to move their assets around so they don’t present themselves as easy targets.”

    – So, now Republicans are unhappy that the President didn’t strike early, without Congressional approval?
    This is the face of a Republican Representative who has no reasonable argument and so must resort to weak insults with the distinct reek of desperation. When Coffman isn’t busy abusing the President, he is busy on his website, being Mr Obvious:

    “…it is vital to promote responsible gun ownership by keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals and of the mentally unstable.”

    – That’s not a position. The alternative would be “we must ensure the mentally unstable can easily get hold of firearms“. The antithesis to the absurd, is not a position worth voting for, unless a credible plan accompanies it.
    Mike Coffman is one of the many old rich male, anti-women Republicans in Congress. The elephant in the womb. He co-sponsored a bill to cut Title X entirely because it provides federal funds to Planned Parenthood, which uses private funds for abortion (again, provides private funds for abortion, not federal). Title X offers family planning funding and services including breast and cervical cancer screenings and preventative healthcare to millions of low income women and families. His war on the most vulnerable doesn’t stop there, Coffman voted no on the expansion of Children’s Health Insurance Program and co-sponsored “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act” and “Defund ObamaCare”. Coffman, in short, is a time and money wasting anti-Obamacare Republican dedicated to the wealthy, who spends his time on useless legislation, to make a political point that no one wants to hear.

    Coffman’s challenger for Colorado’s 6th, is Andrew Romanoff. Romanoff, like Casey is focusing on ending the stalemate in Washington and producing a Congress that actually works, along with green jobs. Romanoff also refuses to take campaign money from special interests, insisting:

    “Washington is awash of special interest money…I’m going to need individuals to chip in and make contributions. I want to represent the people of the 6th District, not special interests.”

    – Romanoff is one of very few to eschew campaign contributions from big business and special interests, worried – and rightfully so – that they distort the political process. By contrast, in 2011/12, Mike Coffman raised $216,000,000 from leadership PACs, $174,000 from the oil and gas industry and $144,000 from the real estate industry. According to the Denver Post, in 2012, Coffman received $10,400 in individual donations, over the legal limit.
    Romanoff was the speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives between 2005 and 2008, sponsored Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) Act. Whilst the process for receiving a BEST grant is a tough one, it is invaluable, given that small districts and charters have practically no other options for funding. Sanford Superintendent Kevin Edgar said:

    “The BEST program is our only hope”

    Romanoff has also authored laws protecting victims of domestic violence, and treatment for mental illness.
    – So the choice is clear in 2014; an anti-women Representative with slightly neurotic, deluded Tea Party-esque tactics, funded by big oil among others, and no discernible position on most issues, or a Representative who isn’t tied to special interests and has worked for the benefit of the most vulnerable in the past.

    Democrats need to secure more than double the seats they managed in 2012, if they are to take back the House and get Congress moving. It’s a tough battle, but it isn’t impossible. Focusing on candidates is vitally important and I will look at several more races over the coming weeks and months.

    Vote Nick Casey for West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District.
    Vote Andrew Romanoff for Colorado’s 6th Congressional District.

    The Madness of Louie Gohmert (R-TX)

    September 1, 2013


    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.

    President Obama and the Syria Dilemma.

    August 30, 2013

    The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.
    – Presidential Candidate Barack Obama, 2007.

    I’m not entirely sure what my position on intervention in Syria is. I do think it important that the UN inspectors be afforded more time. On the one hand, it seems unreasonable to suggest Syria can be compared to Kosovo before it – as some are doing – given that Kosovo did not have the level of Russian support that the Assad regime now seems to enjoy, and so any intervention against Assad, will inevitably only lead to Russian strengthening of the grotesque regime and an escalation of the conflict. On the other hand, what sort of awful precedent does it set, to allow a leader to chemically attack his own people, with no retribution, and no protection for those under attack? The circumstances forced upon refugees cannot be ignored by an international community that can help. If regime change isn’t the goal of intervention – As UK & US officials seem to be suggesting – then, what is? How do we ensure a post-Assad Syria isn’t overrun by Islamist religious conservatives? Is there a detailed plan for a secular, democratic framework upon Assad’s fall?

    It would appear to me that President Obama may very well see himself in the firing line of the Republican obstruction and destruction machine, if he decides to push forward with intervention. Pushing ahead without UK assistance following the Commons vote last night, and without the spineless and opportunistic Arab League, but mainly without Congressional approval, could be a political disaster for the President. A bi-partisan Congressional group are calling on the President to seek the approval of Congress before launching any action. 50 House Democrats wrote a letter to the White House yesterday, stating:

    “While we understand that as Commander in Chief you have a constitutional obligation to protect our national interests from direct attack, Congress has the constitutional obligation and power to approve military force, even if the United States or its direct interests [such as its embassies] have not been attacked or threatened with an attack. As such, we strongly urge you to seek an affirmative decision of Congress prior to committing any U.S. military engagement to this complex crisis.”

    Other prominent Democrats weighed in on the side of Congressional approval, including California’s 13th District Rep. Barbara Lee. Lee said:

    “While the use of chemical weapons is deeply troubling and unacceptable, I believe there is no military solution to the complex Syrian crisis. Congress needs to have a full debate before the United States commits to any military force in Syria – or elsewhere.”

    – And so, with House Democrats registering their worry that the President could go this alone, it isn’t a stretch to point out that House Republicans – given their erratic, and frankly senseless behaviour over the past few years – may use an attack on Syria as a smoking gun for an attempt at impeachment. Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma told a town hall meeting that impeachment proceedings against the President was:

    “perilously close”

    Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama said:

    “The only legal authority that is required to deploy the United States military is of the Congress and the president and the law and the constitution.”

    It is not beyond the realm of imagination, for this particular Republican House to push forward with forging a serious attempt to impeach a President they have long despised, simply because he isn’t Republican.
    Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C) said:

    “If one of our troops goes to Syria and is killed, I will introduce articles of impeachment against the president.”

    – Jones himself likes to hold vendettas, having been a key player in renaming French Fries to Freedom Fries, in protest of France’s opposition to the Iraq war. And whilst he threatens to impeach Obama, when asked about false Bush WMD claims, Jones simply asked President Bush to apologise. In short, like the IRS non-scandal, like the Benghazi-non scandal, and now Syria; the Republican over-dramatic voices of bitterness will flippantly use the conflict as an excuse to attempt to knock the President off of his throne.

    The Defence Authorisation Bill passed last month in the House that urges the President to consider all possible courses of action to remove Assad from power, not requiring Congressional approval. This matters little to the voices in the same House who now demand Congressional approval. But whilst this may appear to give the Obama White House full Congressional support for regime change in Syria, it seems to be over ruled by the Defense Appropriations Bill, which according to Rep. Bill Young (R-Fl):

    “Included in this measure was an amendment , which passed unanimously, that prohibits the use of any funds with respect to military action in Syria without consulting Congress as required by the War Powers Resolution.”

    – The President has his hands tied. If he goes it alone, he will be provoking a fight with Congress that he can ill afford. The wolves are waiting to pounce. Indeed, if Congressional Republicans put forward a compelling enough case, resting on Constitutional grounds among others, and especially if intervention becomes shambolic and shows no strategic planning or a reasoned pull-out strategy, then it seems to me that Congressional Democrats will find it increasingly difficult to reasonably object. Plenty of Democrats are already unhappy at the expanded use of drones, and most certainly do not favour a strike on Syria. Alienating those Democrats is particularly risky, because the conflict in Congress over intervention in Syria does not follow Party lines. If however the President does seek Congressional approval, and fails to get it, then lack of intervention in Syria from the most powerful nation on Earth gives Assad a green-light; makes the President look entirely powerless especially after his 2012 statement that the use of chemical weapons would be a red line; and Congress looking to be using the horrendous situation and innocent lives in Syria to win a battle with the White House. Everyone loses.

    And if the US doesn’t intervene… what then? Who fills the gap? When does it stop? What becomes the red line before the Russians decide enough is enough? Another Rwanda? I suspect in this case, the US will be blamed for not intervening.

    Either way, for the President, conflict in the Middle East has come full circle. His Presidential victory can in some way be attributed to the image presented of being ‘not Bush’, a President marred by a unilateralist attack on Iraq. In 2013 ‘not Bush’ now stands alone, preparing a unilateralist strike on Syria, tied to his 2012 declaration that use of chemical weapons would be a red line. It is an intensely difficult situation for the President, but will become far more difficult if he seeks to press ahead without Congressional approval. Calls for impeachment will become more pronounced. And as political point scoring in Washington ensures that valuable time passes, by which Syrian weapons and targets can be protected, a strike on the capabilities of the hideous Assad administration becomes less and less effective.

    Buying Mitch McConnell.

    June 20, 2013

    By United States Senate ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

    Mitch McConnell, By United States Senate ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

    “The people of the state of Colorado hereby find and declare that large campaign contributions to political candidates create the potential for corruption and the appearance of corruption; that large campaign contributions made to influence election outcomes allow wealthy individuals, corporations, and special interest groups to exercise a disproportionate level of influence over the political process”
    – Article XXVIII, Section I, Colorado Constitution.

    The Kentucky Republican Kingmaker and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is perhaps not a name too many of us are all that familiar with over here in the UK. We may have heard his name banded about occasionally but we really have to delve a little deeper into the murky World of US politics to come across anything of significance, and when we do, we’re presented with a self created ‘maverick’ image of a lone senator willing to be a voice for the Constitutional rights of massive Corporate campaign finance. A worthy cause, I’m sure none of us would agree.

    Why, you may ask, does McConnell care so deeply about thwarting any attempts – supported by both Parties at different times – to regulate campaign finance? Well, the Senate Republican filibuster timings, along with McConnell’s own campaign finance, are all rather telling. McConnell’s work blocking legislation at times appears to reflect periods in which he is receiving massive campaign contributions from Corporate titans.

    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.

    So to continue to speculate; according to Oil Change International, McConnell has voted in favour of the big oil companies 100% of the time during the period 2005-2007. In 2011, McConnell decided to push for the extension of the Keystone oil pipeline, by adding it onto the end of a bill designed to extend year-end payroll tax cuts for middle class people and families. Yes. Senate Republicans would vote down tax breaks for struggling people, unless the Obama Administration succumb to Republican demands for the pressing ahead with the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The Senate Republicans insist that they support the pipeline for the sake of American jobs, and energy independence. I’m sure that must be the case. Yes. It can’t possibly be anything to do with the fact that the recipient of the most Oil and Gas contributions in between 2011 and 2012, was Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, racking up an astonishing $583,550. His main contributor, being Exxon Mobil, at $48,000 for that period. In fact, McConnell is the biggest benefactor from Exxon’s generosity in 2011-2012. In 2013, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson publicly urged the Obama Administration to press ahead with the Keystone pipeline extension. Draw whatever conclusions you so wish.

    McConnell is a good friend to big oil. On the actual day of the debate on the so-called “Repeal Big Oil Subsidies Act” – an Act designed to end the tax breaks afforded to the wealthiest oil companies in the World of up to $24bn – in 2012, McConnell received $131,500 from oil donors in Midland, Texas. The Act failed by filibuster. One of many very dubious filibusters promoted by McConnell since the Republicans lost the Senate in 2006. There is no reasonable excuse to filibuster an Act designed to stop unnecessary Federal funds subsidising very wealthy oil companies. A few Republican bloggers insist that the Act is unconstitutional, because it didn’t originate in the House. How desperately naive to believe that’s the point the Senate Minority are most strongly concerned with.

    In 2011, the “Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act” also failed in the Senate – an Act which would have closed loopholes for the main oil companies, including Exxon – due to Republican derailing tactics, despite the revenue raised from the closure of loopholes being earmarked for debt reduction, something the GOP seems to be obsessed with, when it suits their electoral chances. McConnell, like every great Republican, managed to appear as if he cared about actual American people and their concerns (the same people, he thinks don’t deserve a tax break extension unless an oil pipeline is built) by saying:

    “Clearly, this is not a serious effort to address the price of gas at the pump.”

    – As if addressing the price at the pump, is impossible if you close tax loopholes for your corporate donors. Those Senators who voted against closing tax loopholes, allegedly received on average $370,664 from big oil, compared to $72,145 for those Senators who voted against. Again, draw whatever conclusions you so wish.

    Harking back a couple of paragraphs, I wish to reiterate that McConnell and Senate Republicans in general argued that the Keystone XL pipeline, would create real jobs for Americans. This is one of their main arguments. It’s all about jobs. Job creation… for Americans…. in America. And yet, oddly, if we look back to 2010, we note that Republicans including McConnell voted against the “Creating American Jobs and Ending Offshoring Act“, offering payroll tax relief to companies hiring domestic workers, for a three year period. According to a Senate Democrat Aide, there was also a provision that:

    “basically eliminates deferral of taxes for companies that move overseas but continue to sell products back in the United States.”

    – A practical incentive to keep jobs in the US. The GOP opposed it. The Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell opposed it. According to reports, of the companies that lobbied on this Bill, McConnell received over $1,000,000 from executives and the PACs connected to the lobbying companies.

    According to, McConnell’s share of small donations has fallen to just 5%. He is reliant on huge companies, most outside of Kentucky – the State he represents – and companies for whom he coincidentally, votes in favour of, practically any time they will benefit from such a vote.

    According to the same report, in 2004 McConnell was the 41st wealthiest Senator. By 2010, and despite a massive global economic crises, McConnell became the 10th wealthiest Senator. It is McConnell who is responsible for the super-majority tactic that brings the Country to a standstill. He does this, whilst the companies that fund his sordid Political life, continue to gain from unnecessary tax privileges that benefit no one but the companies… and McConnell.

    Any politician who is tempted to sacrifice duties or principles to get more money doesn’t belong in office.
    – Mitch McConnell, 1987

    Dark money, is money spent by political groups who do not have to disclose their funding. McConnell, predictably, isn’t a big fan of the disclosure of dark money, though he hasn’t always had that attitude. In 1997, McConnell said this:

    “Public disclosure of campaign contributions and spending should be expedited so voters can judge for themselves what is appropriate,”

    – And yet, when the Disclose Act was introduced into the Senate in 2010; at a time when campaign contributions are far higher and far more suspect than back in 1997, Mitchell voted against. His 1997 love for transparency, appears to have died by 2010, at a time when he was racing up the richest Senators list, and attracting huge campaign contributions. According to reports, enormous pressure was placed on Republican Senators to vote against the Disclose Act.

    Campaign finance reform seems to have bipartisan support much of the time. Those who oppose it most outspokenly, and most vehemently, appear to be the Senators and Representatives – like McConnell – that have a stake in big monied, campaign finance. And the one reason campaign finance reform, through a deadlocked and Partisan FEC, is so notably difficult to push forward, is because those who lobby against it, pay very good money, to very powerful Senators, who then vote in turn to kill off reform.

    It is so incredibly transparent that certain Senators, who have a terrific amount of power, exist for the benefit of multinationals regardless of the consequences felt by the public at large. The dismissive nature of the GOP in the Senate, and the vicious experiment in Corporate-sponsored political obstruction, occurs for one specific reason; the corruption of campaign finance. GOP obstruction since 2009, has been off the scale. It should be treated for the hellishly radical and dangerous policy that it is. But much of the obstruction exists purely because it benefits the very wealthy lobbyists. Something Mitch McConnell has fought for years to protect.

    Senators like Mitch McConnell, are poisonous to Democracy.

    The State of the Republicans: 2013

    April 20, 2013

    The end of the Romney campaign ushered in a new era for the Republicans…. apparently. They insisted they must change. Their appeal must broaden. Their hate-filled, politics of over-the-top Glenn Beck style fear had to go. They had to be presentable. Change or die! The old days of a Party of old, white, male, Christian, heterosexual, angry-at-everyone-who-isn’t-EXACTLY-like-them, funded by big corporations had to go. And so we were informed that a new breed of Republicans would appear. Ready to present a reformed GOP to the electorate. They were radically different from their predecessors.

    So how’s that going?

    Well, in November 2012, the residents of Texas’ first district re-elected Louie Gohmert for a fifth term in the House of Reps. If the Republicans are intending to break from the past, surely we’d expect Gohmert to perhaps be a little more moderate than his more radical Tea-Party-esque contemporaries. That’s what we’d expect. However, when asked about his opposition to any gun control legislation, Gohmert gave this rather odd answer:

    “In fact, I had this discussion with some wonderful, caring Democrats earlier this week on the issue of, well, they said “surely you could agree to limit the number of rounds in a magazine, couldn’t you? How would that be problematic?”

    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.

    – You read right. In a discussion about gun control, Gohmert managed to take a shot at same-sex marriage, by employing the insufferably weak slippery slope fallacy. I cannot work out which is more impressive; his ability to link gun control and same-sex marriage… two completely separate issues that in no way overlap, or his intense lack of sensibility in recognising that there is no reason to believe a slippery slope with either of the issues he’s commenting on. I could equally say “If we let women vote, what next, letting camels vote?” or “If we ban cocaine, why not ban cough medicine? Where does it end!!” It’s absurd and it is baseless. He isn’t the only Republican to use this fallacy recently. John Cornyn, the new Senate Minority Whip said:

    “It does not affect your daily life very much if your neighbor marries a box turtle. But that does not mean it is right…. Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife.”

    – Yes. the Republican Senate Minority Whip has just compared a loving couple wishing to express that love via marriage, and wishing only to be considered equal under law….. to a man marrying a turtle. That’s the standard of top Republicans in 2013.

    Back to Gohmert. The man who tried to link gay marriage to gun control, also claimed that the liberals are going to make Churches:

    ….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, would be laughable if it weren’t so utterly terrifying.

    Bobby Jindal won a 2nd term as Louisiana Governor in 2011. Since then, he’s been rather excitable at promoting misleading figures to promote an agenda of fear. Whilst one fifth of all residents of Louisiana lack health insurance, Jindal refuses to expand Medicaid expansion, claiming it would cost Louisiana $1bn over the next ten years. Quite where he gets this figure from, I’m not sure. Especially given that a Department of Health Report noted that Louisiana would actually save around $400mn over the next ten years, by expanding Medicaid. He appears to have invented his own figure, to scare people. Despite this, and despite a petition signed by…

  • Advocates for Louisiana Public Healthcare.
  • Advocacy Center.
  • Capitol City Family Health Center.
  • Capital City Alliance.
  • Citizens United for In-Home Support.
  • Coalition of HIV/AIDS Nonprofits and Governmental Entities.
  • Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, Harvard Law School.
  • Children’s Defense Fund-Louisiana.
  • Children’s Bureau of New Orleans.
  • DEAF Louisiana.
  • Doctors for America.
  • Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance, Northeast Louisiana.
  • Health Law Advocates of Louisiana.
  • HOPE For Homeless.
    Along with 30 other groups, and countless more individual signatures….. Jindal refuses to expand Medicaid.

    And then there is the apparent darling of the Republicans new bid for power in 2016; Marco Rubio.

    “We’re bound together by common values. That family is the most important institution in society. That almighty God is the source of all we have.”

    – Here, Rubio is subtly promoting the myth that America was founded a Christian nation, and that religion must be considered part of the fabric. A subtle hint that non-belief, cannot be considered an American value. Thus, in a single, tiny quote, we see the saviour of the Republicans alienate anyone who isn’t slightly obsessed with ‘God’ being a key component to Patriotism. So that’s 15% of Americans who claim no religion. That’s a lot of people to alienate, for a man promoted as the key to solving the Republican Party’s problem of appealing to minorities. Rubio is following the conservative trend of telling people who should and shouldn’t qualify as ‘American’. This in itself, is divisive.

    Rubio also still appeals to tradition when dealing with same-sex marriage, insisting that marriage cannot be redefined. Seemingly ignoring all evidence that the current definition of marriage, is just one that has evolved over time, based on modern Christian understanding of the term, and differs from other cultures entirely. So, that’s gay people alienated, as well as non-believers.

    Brand new Senator for Senator for Arizona, assuming office in 2013, Jeff Flake also doesn’t like the idea of two people in love getting married. Whilst despising ‘big government’ and the intrusion of the State into people’s lives, Flake voted in favour of a Federal Marriage Amendment, Constitutionally banning same-sex marriage. For someone so obsessed for getting government out of people’s private lives, Flake seems more than happy to use government power to ban love.

    Back to Rubio. As well as not particularly liking gay people, Rubio voted against the Violence Against Women Act, stating:

    “I have concerns regarding the conferring of criminal jurisdiction to some Indian tribal governments over all persons in Indian country, including non-Indians.”

    – Essentially, a non-Native American male being tried under the law for sexually assaulting a Native American woman, concerns Rubio, because he doesn’t trust Indian Tribal Governments. And yet, he puts his full faith in the States to fund programs properly:

    “These funding decisions should be left up to the state-based coalitions that understand local needs best.”

    – So trustworthy are local areas in dealing with domestic abuse cases, that due to budget cuts, the Topeka, Kansas City Council and Mayor actually repealed the Domestic Abuse law, in a bid to start a bit of a war with the County Prosecutor. This came about after Shawnee County D.A Chad Taylor, moved to stop investigating domestic violence entirely due to budget cuts. This meant that the City of Topeka would have to take up the cases, which they couldn’t afford to do either. So their Council voted to repeal the domestic abuse act. Which, forced it back into the hands of Shawnee County. Taylor said:

    “My office now retains sole authority to prosecute domestic battery misdemeanors and will take on this responsibility so as to better protect and serve our community. We will do so with less staff, less resources, and severe constraints on our ability to effectively seek justice.”

    Rita Smith, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence said:

    “I really do not understand this. It’s really outrageous that they’re playing with family safety to see who blinks first. People could die while they’re waiting to straighten this out.”

    – All of this comes down to budget cuts. Shawnee County DA Chad Taylor refused to prosecute domestic violence cases, after facing a 10% budget cut, despite half of all cases being domestic abuse cases, which increased substantially in the past three years, without any extra funding from the County. How very trustworthy! Interestingly, Rubio voted against the Budget Control Act in 2011, and the Fiscal Cliff 2012. Rubio evidently trusts the localities to make funding decisions, which is much easier, if those localities don’t have any funds in the first place.

    Rubio isn’t the only Republican with odd reasons for voting against the Violence Against Women Act. Steve Stockman, Representative of Texas’ 36th District announced his shameful reasons for voting against:

    “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?”

    Stockman also voted to repeal Federal laws that ban guns in schools. Why so? Well, given that among his campaign contributors are the ‘National Association for Gun Rights’ and ‘Gun Owners of America’, it perhaps isn’t that surprising that Stockman feels the need to put their interests above the safety of children. Just to make sure we all understand where his allegiances lie, here is incredibly ridiculous, almost comical campaign bumper sticker, tweeted for the World to see, by the man himself.
    – I’m not sure if Stockman is calling for semi-automatic rifles to be inserted into the vaginas of every pregnant woman. I wouldn’t be surprised.

    The scientifically illiterate are still abundant in the Republican Party. Marco Rubio once announced that he didn’t know if the Earth was made in 6 days or not, and that we’re never likely to know. But Georgia’s 10th District Rep. Paul Broun (planning to run for Senate in 2014) and, quite horrifyingly, serving on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology once took Rubio’s toying with Creationism one step further:

    Earth is about 9,000 years old, it was created in six days as we know them”

    – Broun also said of embryology, genetics, evolution, and the Big Bang theory:

    “they’re lies straight from the Pit of Hell … lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”

    – Broun also said of climate change:

    “Scientists all over this world say that the idea of human induced global climate change is one of the greatest hoaxes perpetrated out of the scientific community. It is a hoax. There is no scientific consensus.”[

    – Echoing his scientific illiteracy, Broun gives us enlightening views on politics, when brief mention of a National Security Force by President Obama, before the 2008 election:

    “It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he’s the one who proposed this national security force, I’m just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may _ may not, I hope not _ but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism. That’s exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it’s exactly what the Soviet Union did. When he’s proposing to have a national security force that’s answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he’s showing me signs of being Marxist.”

    – Yes. A US Representative, thinks the Earth was made in 6 days, evolution is a lie from the pit of hell, climate change isn’t man made, and convinced President Obama was going to create his own Hitler Youth, to take over America and create a Marxist haven.

    Now to move on from bat-shit crazy, to slightly less crazy, Paul Ryan. The spritely Paul Ryan. You may think he’s irrelevant as a symbol of this great new era for Republicans, given that his ticket lost the Presidential election. But let’s not forget that Ryan is the Chairman of the House Budget Committee, in 2013. A pretty important position. He’s also Wisconsin’s 1st District House Representative. He looks young, he seemed fresh, he wasn’t the grey haired typical old Republican. Nor was he the gun tottin’ Sarah Palin slightly vacant Republican. He was paraded on the networks as a hero of fiscal conservativism, brave to speak out against Obama overspending! His brand new House Republican Budget released in March this year, which the brave, fiscally conservative hero claims will:

    “end cronyism, eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse and returns the federal government to its proper sphere of activity”

    – So it is worthwhile to note that the anti-big government, pro-deficit reduction Paul Ryan voted for the two Bush tax cuts (both considered a great failure, and added significantly to the deficit), the $700 bailout of the banks, and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, whilst voting against Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Most of Paul Ryan’s economic voting record, has added significantly to the National deficit.
    His House Republicans Budget, unveiled by Republicans on March 12, noted that $931 billion of the creatively accounted $4.6tn apparently savable over the next ten years, will come from counting the savings from ending the Iraq and Afghanistan wars…. wars that Paul Ryan voted for in the first place. Economically, Paul Ryan doesn’t know where he stands.
    Socially, despite absolutely no evidence to back up its claims, in 2009 Paul Ryan cosponsored the ‘Sanctity of Life Act’. A very odd little Act that sought to protect fertilised eggs, stating that the eggs:

    “shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood”

    Ryan also believes that abortion, in all cases, including rape and incest, should be made illegal, and States given the right to criminally prosecute women who have abortions, including for rape and incest.

    Before being elected as Senator for South Carolina in 2013, Tim Scott was House Representative for South Carolina’s first district. During his time in the House, Scott cosponsored a truly horrifying Bill that would deny food stamps to poorest families, if a family member was taking part in strike action. The right to strike – a key component of a democratic society – used by the weak against the powerful, used to secure freedoms and security for generations, Tim Scott voted to essentially end. Threatening the poorest people in society; you either strike, or you eat. Scott is also convinced that the private health care system in the US is the greatest in the World, and that the Health Reforms of 2010 should be repealed. This is no surprise given that one of his main campaign contributors, has been Blue Cross/Blue Shield, the health insurance company. Among other campaign contributions, he has received donations from Goldman Sachs. Tim Scott is a politician, for the wealthy, by the wealthy. The Insurance Industry Candidate.
    Speaking of complete contempt for the less wealthy, Mark Meadows, a member of the January 2013 intake for The House, and Tea Party favourite, representing North Carolina’s 11th District voted against the Sandy Relief Fund.

    Dean Heller, the Senator for Nevada, who will hold that position until 2019, voted against the Health Care Reform, and against Fair Minimum Wage Act. Heller has also voted against subsidising renewable energy, whilst voting to support development of oil, gas and coal…. two of his top campaign contributors, are Alliance Resource, and Murray Energy…. two coal companies.

    So, gay marriage leading to marrying an animal, Church’s having to hire crossdressing Satan-worshippers, manipulating figures to suit an agenda, a refusal to expand Medicaid to help the most vulnerable, evolution a myth from the pits of hell, refusal to protect victims of domestic abuse, including transgendered people, a desire to see women who have been raped imprisoned for having an abortion, guns in schools funded by the gun lobby, Obama trying to raise an army to enforce a Marxist Utopia, anti-renewable energy, candidates wishing to disenfranchise poor people and their right to strike, and wishing to repeal health reform whilst taking campaign contributions from the wealthiest insurance companies in the country.

    This new Republican breed sound, and act, and speak, eerily familiar to the old breed.

  • Bad day for bigots II: President Obama’s 2nd Inauguration.

    January 21, 2013

    The President today gave a far more forceful and progressive Inaugural Speech than that of four years ago. He mentioned the word ‘gay’ for the first time in inaugural history, whilst discussing equality. He mentioned climate change. He mentioned equality in diversity, and being a friend of the poor along with support for the undocumented immigrant community. Words are of course, cheap. It would now be great if he backed up his words with actions, took on the insane American Right Wing, and left an enduring legacy.

    After election night, I became aware of a vast array of tweets from those seemingly unhappy that Obama had been re-elected. You can see the flurry of right winged bigotry from election night, right here. As for today, it seems there has been another outpouring of insane, bigoted, putrid right winged sentiment coming out of the Twittersphere that i’ve come across. Here are a few of my favourites:

    – Where would these far right lunatics be, without referring to someone they don’t like as either Hitler or Stalin? This genius goes one step further and suggests President Obama is both Hitler and Stalin. Communist and Fascist. Quite the achievement!

    marx– Oh and Marx too. Obviously. What with bailing out the auto industry and the banking system. EXACTLY as Marx demands.


    – Oh and Saddam too.

    – YES! FACT! Except, it isn’t. The Nazis inherited gun restrictions from the former Weimar Republic. Actually, one of the first things Hitler did on coming to power, was to destroy all Union Power. Mitt Romney signalled his support for Ohio’s anti-Union laws in 2012. If you’re going to draw weak links to Hitler, at least get your research straight.


    – This is sensible from Ken Stephens. Politics, and whom we elect should not be based on the candidates personal life.

    – Oh Ken. The sensibility has suddenly been reduced to a big pile of bigoted ashes.



    – It’s true. One mention in Leviticus that homosexuality is ‘abominable’. And it’s not like the Bible also endorses slaver….. oh wait: “When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21)“. I guess I can count on anti-gay Christian Americans to campaign for the re-introduction of slavery.

    civilwar– Spirit of the Civil War still alive and well in 1860s/2013 Texas, I see.

    So. That’s Hitler, Saddam, Stalin, Muslim, Communist, Fascist, Marx, Socialist, Kenyan, and Gay. The Right Winged Nut Jobs really did come out in force today to express their delusions. They provide great material, and i’m always thankful for them.

    As to the Obama speech; I am inclined to be far more sceptical than four years ago. He still has to contend with a viciously regressive Republican Congress, and I’m a little concerned that his mention of climate change, and gay rights was simply a way to make the progressives sing his praises. In four years time, I hold out very little hope that there will have been any advancement in dealing with climate change, and no Federal recognition of the right to marry for homosexual couples. The President’s rhetoric really needs to be backed up by strong action, in spite of the opposition from the abusive far right.

    Why the Republican Party lost

    November 10, 2012

    Ohio. An important State for any Presidential candidate to win. No Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio. And so you’d expect Republicans to be a bit less malicious in their campaigning tactics when trying to win over potential key voters. And yet, in 2010 Medina County Republicans put out this leaflet. You should probably cast your eyes down to the most telling part, and the epitome of the problem with the Republican Party today:

    – Not only is the problem in the horrendous sexism, but it’s also in that…… it isn’t surprising.

    Republicans are reeling, trying to figure out what went wrong. From calls that the Romney campaign was not right winged enough; to calls that the Romney campaign was not moderate enough; to calls that Obama rigged the election. To Karl Rove not convinced that Obama actually won the election; To calls that Republicans need to appeal to minorities more. All of which do not address the actual problem; the Republican Party has an ideology problem, both economically and socially. Appealing to ‘minorities’ means nothing unless the underlying bigotry and ignorance is addressed. Cloaking inherent racism, sexism and homophobia behind more creative language hides nothing. The country is more liberal than they think. It is not a suspicious, homophobic, sexist country of multimillionaires.

    In the UK the Conservative Party is quite generally known as the Nasty Party. They alienate, they belittle, and they discriminate. They open their mouths to say pretty vicious stuff, and nothing else. The Republicans are no different.

    The fact that Republicans manage to attract any female voters strikes me as incredible. Republican news anchor Ann Coulter, reflecting a general Republican anti-women stance once said:

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

    – Even female Republicans, are anti-women. This is a paradox of right winged America. They seem to insist as much as possible that they are true Patriots. Real Americans. Defenders of the Constitution. And yet, they apparently call for secession whenever a democratic decision does not go their way, they call for the right to vote for women to be revoked, and then they completely ignore the distinct separation between Church and State as laid out by the Founders and their enlightenment thinking, with things like this…..

    “We’re bound together by common values. That family is the most important institution in society. That almighty God is the source of all we have.”

    This is Marco Rubio. Apparently, he is the Republican answer to appealing to alienated minorities. Here, he is promoting the myth that America was founded a Christian nation, and subtly hinting that non-belief, cannot be considered an American value. Thus, in two quotes, we have seen both women and atheists alienated. So that’s 155.6 million women, and 15% of Americans who claim no religion. That’s a lot of people to alienate. Rubio is following the conservative trend of telling people who does and doesn’t qualify as ‘American’. This in itself, is divisive. It works against the Republicans, because not only are their policies seen as having racist, sexist undertones; the rhetoric confirms it. They are shooting themselves. Rubio is also reflecting the Biblical free will myth. In the Bible this myth is simple; you are free to believe in the Christian God, but if you choose not to, you will be punished for eternity. Suddenly there is force, which means there is no freedom in choice. Republicans are similar. You are FREE in America to believe whatever you wish. But if you don’t believe what Republicans tell you, then you’re not American.
    We’re not finished with Coulter yet. She of course, can alienate more people pretty quickly. On the subject of 9/11, Coulter needlessly and baseless-ly said:

    If Chicago had been hit, I assure you New Yorkers would not have cared. What was stunning when New York was hit was how the rest of America rushed to New York’s defense. New Yorkers would have been like, “It’s tough for them; now let’s go back to our Calvin Klein fashion shows.”

    – So now, that’s women, Atheists and the entire State of New York.
    It may be unfair to pick on Coulter. She is not representative of the Republican Party. She describes herself as conservative, which of course the Republicans are also. But she isn’t a Republican congress person or Presidential candidate. She says ridiculous shit, because she has books to sell. She perpetuates stupidity, for financial gain. It isn’t Patriotism it is right winged anti-democratic solypsism, with its very very narrow understanding of what is decent and correct. The abusive levels these people will stoop for commercial purposes is possibly more telling that their disturbingly outdated views themselves.
    Another commercial bigot, is Rush Limbaugh. On the subject of women, Limbaugh said:

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

    – Wealthy white conservative attitudes to women are simply a reactive response from a modern liberal inclusive culture that they very much dislike, because it threatens their unjustifiably privileged position in life.

    We can however find just as much disturbing sentiment from Republicans in congress and Presidential candidates pretty easily, along with groups that support and fight for them. They are very dogmatic. Like a religion that never updates with the times. The Republicans, are a religious ideology unto themselves.

    The Republican controlled State Senate of North Carolina voted to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Their main support group, “North Carolina Values Coalition”, whose benevolent overlord Tami Fitzgerald said this:

    “the people of North Carolina would rise up and vote to keep the opposition from redefining traditional marriage.”

    As i’ve noted before, using the term ‘traditional marriage’ comes with an intense amount of problems. Hopefully (and I will email and ask them this) they are going to be consistent and support Biblical marriage in its entirety. As I noted in a previous entry:#

    Republicans must be against marriage, if the woman isn’t a virgin. As advocated in Deuteronomy 22:13-21.
    Republicans must support the right for a man to have multiple concubines as justified in 2 Sam 5:13 and
    2 Chron 11:21.
    Republicans must support the right for a man to marry his kidnapped captive (though, only after shaving her head, obviously) as permitted in Deut. 21:11-13.
    Republicans must support the right for a man to trade his wife, as property. As advocated in RUTH 4:5-10.
    Republicans must support the right for a man to marry his rape victim, if he pays for her: Deut. 22:28.
    Let’s be consistent Republicans!

    – I look forward to seeing the bigoted bullshit of Tami Fitzgerald support the right for a man to trade his wife as property. Though, judging by Republican attitudes to women, it wouldn’t actually surprise me.
    Her organisation went on to just invent ‘facts’:

    “….the overwhelming body of social science evidence establishes that children do best when raised by their married mother and father.”

    – This simply isn’t true. Along with the idea that sexuality is a choice, or can be cured this is an assertion completely discredited by the American Psychological Association. Here:

    Do children of lesbian and gay parents have more problems with sexual identity than do children of heterosexual parents?For instance, do these children develop problems in gender identity and/or in gender role behavior? The answer from research is clear: sexual and gender identities (including gender identity, gender-role behavior, and sexual orientation) develop in much the same way among children of lesbian mothers as they do among children of heterosexual parents. Few studies are available regarding children of gay fathers.

    Do children raised by lesbian or gay parents have problems in personal development in areas other than sexual identity?For example, are the children of lesbian or gay parents more vulnerable to mental breakdown, do they have more behavior problems, or are they less psychologically healthy than other children? Again, studies of personality, self-concept, and behavior problems show few differences between children of lesbian mothers and children of heterosexual parents. Few studies are available regarding children of gay fathers.

    Are children of lesbian and gay parents likely to have problems with social relationships?For example, will they be teased or otherwise mistreated by their peers? Once more, evidence indicates that children of lesbian and gay parents have normal social relationships with their peers and adults. The picture that emerges from this research shows that children of gay and lesbian parents enjoy a social life that is typical of their age group in terms of involvement with peers, parents, family members, and friends.

    Are these children more likely to be sexually abused by a parent or by a parent’s friends or acquaintances?There is no scientific support for fears about children of lesbian or gay parents being sexually abused by their parents or their parents’ gay, lesbian, or bisexual friends or acquaintances.

    – So, what we are saying is that Tami Fitzgerald is simply homophobic. Her baseless bullshit is nothing but prejudice dressed up as reason. To ban two loving people from marriage, on the grounds of nothing but a book of fairy tales and private prejudice, is disgusting.
    Similarly, Paul Ryan said that Mitt Romney would be a great “defender of marriage”. Against what? We all know he means against gay marriage. Which suggests he means that a gay couple willing to get marriage, let’s say, these two sweet old ladies, Cathy Glass and Carmeh Lawler….

    ….. are trying to ‘attack’ …. ‘traditional’ marriage. The language is important here. ‘Attack’. It suggests there is a purpose behind the desire of Cathy and Carmeh to get marriage… who have been together for 30 years….. other than just for love. Again, the prejudice is disgusting. The Republicans are on the wrong side of history, again. The opposition to gay equality will be viewed in much the same way as the opposition to civil rights 50 years ago is now viewed. Regressive, bigoted, hate filled and wrong.

    So far….

  • Women.
  • The entire State of New York.
  • Atheists.
  • Gay people.
  • Children of gay parents.
    Republicans are really racking up the list.

    Of course we know Republicans main claim this election was to be on the side of the middle class. The mask slowly begins to slide when you note the way that Republicans have dealt with labor unions in the GOPs quest to turn Capitalism back to the industrial revolution. Firstly, we should take a look at the advancements made by labor unions and we should also note that these advancements were certainly not made with the support of people like Mitt Romney…
    End of child labour; healthcare insurance; collective bargaining for wages; minimum wage; paid over time; 8 hour work day; outlawing of job discrimination based on race, colour, sex, or national origin; workers comp benefits for people injured at work. All of these gains would be entirely erased tomorrow, if Romney’s entitlement society for the wealthy were to prevail. They certainly had to be fought for.

    So how to Republicans treat unions? The Republicans in 2011 voted through a number of bills with the express intention of weakening unions. Given that their main donors are massive corporate entities famed for shipping jobs abroad and keeping wages as low as physically possible, it isn’t a surprise. But these were not all bills designed to attack union leaders, or excessive union power (of which, there isn’t any). These were bills strictly designed to make it more difficult for workers to join unions in the first place. And it is all hidden behind the idea that only big business has a workers best interests at heart. Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan said that unions:

    “….taken actions that directly oppose American job providers.”

    – The problem is, those ‘job providers’ main concern is profit, not person. Unions provide the person, not profit counterbalance. They are essential. To undermine unions, to underfund unions, to make it difficult for people to join unions – the very backbone of the middle class – is, well, a Corporate/Romney wet dream.
    If we were to travel back to the 1950s labor unions were a positive part of everyday life. Corporations and unions acted together in a balanced way, as to be beneficial to everyone. Around the 1970s, that changed, and corporate America took on unions viciously. Mainly Republicans. And mainly for two reasons; large Corporate backing demanded it, and it weakened the Democrat Party. Interestingly, the media helped to distort or ignore the viewpoint of organised labor…. On the subject of the Delphi buyout, Progressive Review published how many paragraphs in the Washington Post, Detroit News and NY Times you had to read before reading the viewpoint of a union;
    NY Times: 26 paragraphs.
    Detroit Times: 22 paragraphs.
    Washington Post: 11 paragraphs.
    There has been a concerted effort to undermine unions for the past thirty years, and a Republican Party will not stop until unions have virtually no power. For some reason, even after the biggest economic crises bought on by deregulated greed of the ‘job creators’… the Republican Party is insistent that these people are our saviours.

    Interestingly, nations with the highest Union membership; Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Belgium….. all came out of the economic crises, pretty strong. And Denmark, Finland and Norway all came top of the UNs ‘World Happiness Report’, which takes into account job security, quality of work and life, and opportunities. Also, they are the most Atheist countries in the World, and have universal healthcare. I’m afraid the US comes in at 11th place. Perhaps looking to that EVIL SOCIALIST EUROPE! for inspiration isn’t all that bad an idea afterall.

    Federal Judge James Leon Holmes, nominated by the Bush administration, once said of rape:

    “Concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.”

    – That’s right. He made a joke. He of course is only one of many Republicans who don’t particularly like rape victims. And it isn’t a new phenomena of stupidity either. In 1995 Republican Rep. Henry Aldridge told the House Appropriations committee:

    “The facts show that people who are raped — who are truly raped — the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever.”

    – There’s that appeal to ‘facts’ again. Republican facts. Not regular ACTUAL facts. And what was the context? That’s right, cutting funds to help poorer women get access to abortion. A disgusting manipulation of facts, to achieve a disgusting end. In fact, all medical institutions entirely refute the extraordinary claim Aldridge made here.
    We all know that this line of reasoning is still alive, after over fifteen years since Aldridge made his ridiculous statement. Todd Akin said:

    If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something.

    – I’m not sure what qualifies as ‘legitimate rape’, other than exposing Akin’s own prejudicial lack of trust in women. And also, AGAIN with the inventing ‘facts’. Really, stop that!
    The Republican position on ‘life’ seems to be pretty clear.

    Onto race.
    Usually I am not surprised by Republican racist quotes. But I must confess, this one shocked me. Arkansas State Rep. Jon Hubbard wrote a book in which he refers to slavery as:

    A blessing in disguise.

    He goes on to say that it is a blessing, because African Americans were:

    “Rewarded with citizenship in the greatest nation ever established upon the face of the Earth.”

    Rewarded! He actually said that. Rewarded. By their superiors.
    And so it goes on….
    Kansas State Senate Speaker Mike O’Neal sent an email to House Republicans which referred to Michelle Obama as “Mrs YoMamma”. This is the same Mike O’Neal who sent an email to friends regarding the President, quoting a Biblical passage which states:

    7 When he is judged, let him come forth guilty,
    And let his prayer become sin.
    8 Let his days be few;
    Let another take his office.
    9 Let his children be fatherless
    And his wife a widow.
    10 Let his children wander about and beg;
    And let them seek sustenance [a]far from their ruined homes.

    He isn’t the only slightly insane racist Republican. Marily Davenport, an elected member of the Orange County Republican Party and central committee sent an email with the title “No birth certificate… now you know why!” with this picture attached:

    – As well as this blatant racism, there is an underlying and subtle institutional sentimental racism behind certain Republican shows of disrespect from the moment Obama was elected. From heckling him in Congress, to refusing to meet at the White House for budget negotiations, to storming out of negotiations, to John Boehner being the first Speaker in history to deny the President’s request on a specific date to address a joint session of Congress. There is a mass of disrespect, as if the President simply isn’t worthy of their respect.

    During the 1970s, the Nixon Administration employed the Southern Strategy in order to win over white voters who traditonally voted Democrat in the past, by appealing to Southern racism. The Nixon strategist who came up with the Souther Strategy, Kevin Phillips, in 1970 said this:

    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.

    – This has been the position ever since.
    The Senator for South Carolina Lindsey Graham in 2012 echoed the Southern Strategy of the Nixon years with this little gem of racist wisdom:

    “The demographics race we’re losing badly. We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

    Though it is now masked more creatively; economic opposition to affirmative action. Or Bill O’Reilly’s underhanded racist and sexist remark that:

    “The white establishment is now the minority, and the voters, many of them, feel that the economic system is stacked against them and they want stuff. You are going to see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama. Overwhelming black vote for President Obama. And women will probably break President Obama’s way. People feel that they are entitled to things and which candidate, between the two, is going to give them things?”

    …. the stoking of the racist flames for electoral purposes is still a strong tactic of the Republican Party. O’Reilly went on to say that 20 years ago a candidate like Romney would have beaten Obama. And it’s true. We were still getting used to the idea of Neo-liberalism. Everyone loved it. It was going to trickle wealth down. Everyone was going to benefit. Communities would be lifted out of poverty…blah blah.. utter bullshit. We now know what that economic plan actually achieved; the wealthy like Romney got wealthier, exported jobs oversees, put most of their money into off-shore accounts to avoid actually having to help sustain a social safety net and ladder for others to climb, and then investing in destructive stock market deals that eventually collapsed and plummeted America into a deep recession. The only people who actually believe they are entitled to government handouts, are the very wealthy who for some odd reason have it into their minds that they made their wealth themselves, did not require a stable infrastructure of roads, policing, fire protection, schooling, health protection etc as a framework for wealth to be amassed, and so now having taken everything the well funded system offered them, insist they should not have to pay back into it to sustain it for the next generation. This is the entitlement society.

    And do we really believe that Goldman Sachs, Adelson Drug Clinic, Bain Capital, Crow Holdings, Las Vegas Sands and other top corporate Republican Party donors didn’t want ‘stuff’ had Romney been elected? Did they simply donate out of the goodness of their heart? Las Vegas Sands spent $20,512,550. Pretty sure they could have ‘created’ thousands of jobs with those wasted funds.

    We know that the by-product of tax cuts for the wealthy, especially in the south, is that African Americans get hit the hardest. From the 1960s to today, blatant racism through political process is deplored. So there are more abstract ways to achieve essentially the same racist policies based on white privilege. There is the subtle hint by people like O’Reilly that minorities like African Americans are the problem, due to Welfare. And so cutting entitlements and safety nets certainly has a racial element. We forget that the very reason welfare payments have risen, is because poorer African American communities were targeted for sub-prime mortgages that eventually pushed millions of people out of work, and unable to find work. This has nothing to do with a ‘culture of dependency’ it is simply a safety net for when the very Social-Darwinist system that people like Romney advocate so vehemently, fails miserably, but does not affect those who amassed fortunes when times were good.

    As I noted in a previous article on race in America today:

    Public Policy Polling of Raleigh North Carolina, found that 46% of Republican voters in Mississippi think interracial marriage should be illegal. 14% said they weren’t sure. I cannot comprehend that number. It does indeed show that race is an issue, and specifically with Republican voters.

    – Whilst it is more subtle racism, the Republicans still give of the atmosphere of racism.

    And of course, it is impossible not to mention Mitt Romney’s description of half the American electorate being those who want to live of the Government.

    So, that’s

  • Women.
  • The entire State of New York.
  • Atheists.
  • Gay people.
  • Children of gay parents.
  • Anyone in a Union.
  • Anyone who has had an abortion.
  • Anyone who isn’t white.
  • Anyone who isn’t rich.

    And then there is of course… appealing to irrational fear. Evolution will end my religious freedom ARGH!!! Gay people will end my religious freedom also ARGH!!!! Universal healthcare will kill my nan ARGH!!!! Putting top rate of tax back to what it was before Bush IS COMMUNISM ARGH!!! They are taking away my freedom!! ARGH!!! And you ask “How are they taking away your freedom” to vacant expressions from empty heads who simply repeat what Fox News has told them. Thinking people do not like being associated with a party of irrational fear.

    The most disturbing thing about the Republican Party is their outward claim to be the party for freedom, liberty and individual rights, yet their complete abhorrence of anyone who isn’t like them. They are therefore willing to restrict the most fundamental rights; love, marriage, control of ones own body, as well as opportunity. To achieve this, there are three points of attack:
    1. Subtly claim that the privilege currently given out to white, rich, heterosexual, christian males may be under threat. Offer no evidence for this. For example, there is no reason for anyone to believe that allowing Cathy and Carmeh to marry would somehow destroy Bill O’Reilly’s marriage.
    2. Link it to “Being American”. Again, pose the anti-thesis of this line of reasoning, as ‘anti-American’. As if your life, or your freedoms are under threat.
    3. Read selected Biblical passages. Ignore all context of passage, ignore surrounding passages, ignore all passages that you do not like.
    4. Know that your audience is probably too busy to look up the evidence for what you’re saying, so just say every so often “the research is clear!” and apply it to your argument. Whether it’s clear or not.
    They are willing to invent ‘facts’ and distort scientific research for their own horrid little bigoted agenda. It isn’t that they don’t know how to talk to minorities; it is simply that those minorities have long been defined as the enemies of America, by a very hostile Republican Party.

    To appeal to a wider audience, they can’t just change Republican Party rhetoric to be a bit less vicious. They must change their fundamental principles. The idea of what an “American” is, they must no longer be so arrogant as to claim a monopoly on. They cannot keep up attacks on unionised labor. They must not speak of women as if they are 2nd to men. They must not allow Christian fundamentalism to take over the party. And most of all, they must not act and speak like they are the landlords of America, simply allowing African Americans and Latinos to live in their US. They must, in short, completely change. I am going to say this will take far longer than four years.