Tag Archives: Republican

Republican Response

My own party sickens me with their response to the President’s State of the Union Address.  It appears that the Republicans continue their decade-long trend of a lack of vision and foresight and maintain the quasi-religious belief that all government action is bad.  While there are many failed policies, there is a time for rationality.

  • It does not make sense that healthcare is linked to your place of employment.
  • It does not make sense that we can fund foreign wars with over a trillion dollars while we let our own infrastructure decay and our schools turn to rot with a lack of funding.  Afghanistan was a just war, but Iraq was not.  However now future generations are stuck footing the multi-trillion dollar bill.
  • It does not make sense for the rich (defined here as $250k a year or more in annual income) to pay less money to support the very system that allowed them to become rich.
  • It is the Republican party that is dividing this country by engaging in class warfare – supporting the rich while the middle class and poor fail.  Otherwise why would they have blocked a tax cut extension (until the last minute) for millions of Americans while marching like lemmings to continue cutting taxes for the wealthy.
  • It is the Republican party that continues towards a self-fulling prophecy of cutting government services so that government fails.
  • It is not the wealthy who are job creators.  It is the middle class and the poor. This is simple math.  A human only needs to eat so much food, own so many cars, own so many houses.  With a fraction of the wealth distributed more evenly (so the US doesn’t have wealth disparity along the lines of most south American dictatorships), job creation would boom.  Go ask any millionare how much they spend on groceries a week against someone in the middle class.  It’d probably be about the same.  Guess how many middle class families you  could have for ~$1 million a year?  Let’s be generous and say 4.  That’s FOUR TIMES as much consumption.
  • It is the Republicans who advocate for more foreign energy imports (Hello Keystone XL, ITS IN CANADA) through their continued denial of climate change science and continue to promote monarchies and strong-men across the globe rather than fostering policies that encourage democracy.
  • It was the deregulation in California that caused the energy crisis, and it was deregulation of banks that caused the housing bubble.
  • It is the Republicans who claim to be for small government while advocating for invasive policies into individual liberties.  Heaven forbid someone should have the inherent right to control their own body (birth control, abortion, ability to end your life when it is the correct time), or marry whom they please.  They push their conservative religious agenda on everyone while complaining about how there isn’t enough protection for religious freedom.

My party needs to get off of it’s high horse and come to terms with the world we live in.  Not some fantasy dream land.  Bring me a candidate who applies reason and logic to policies, with a true view of small government and I will consider them.  The Enlightenment was one of the greatest occurrences in the West, but the Republicans turn their backs to reason.  Until they come to see reason again, I will continue to vote for the Democrats, who at least seem to get one thing right: basic human rights and the ability to pursue happiness without religious persecution.

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So called “Pledge to America”…

… and why no one who advocates for smaller government should fall for it.

Today the House Republicans issued their so-called “Pledge for America“.  It is merely another source of worthless pandering from a party that likes to think it still has some shred of fiscal conservatism left to it.

In the first page, it manages to raise the specter of tyranny, creates ghosts of “an unchecked executive, a compliant legislature, and an overreaching judiciary” which have “combined to thwart the will of the people”.  So let me get this straight: President Obama has managed to pass every bit of legislature he wanted to, there have been no filibusters in the Senate, and the CONSERVATIVE MAJORITY Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Roberts is overreaching? (Okay, I’ll agree to this last point, but not as something that is leaning in the direction the House Republicans who drafted this document would want you to believe.)

For all the fact that the document raises these issues, it is worthwhile to note that I have heard tell that about the only thing the Founding Fathers feared as much as tyranny was the uneducated masses, and some probably would have sided with tyranny.

Assorted pledges take up the bottom half of the first page and roll on the second.  However, when looking at the track record of unethical “family-values” behavior (how many sex scandals do you need?), lack of transparency (how many millions were “misplaced” or “lost track of” under President Bush and the Republicans?), and honest in its dealings (again, how many WMD did we find in Iraq?), this document is nothing more than wool that is being pulled over people’s eyes.

It talks about “job killing tax hikes”, yet taxes were higher under Reagan and Clinton (and boy were those Clinton years good economically).  It offers vague platitudes about stopping “out-of-control spending” when the Republican record on massive growth of government (don’t forget the military budget folks) actually has changed, almost flipped, over the last few decades.  I haven’t vetted this source, but I’d recommend checking it out (also check here).

It talks about the horrors of government run health care: Fine, be honest, get out there and start talking about repealing Medicare and Medicade.  That same crappy government run health care that had conservative protesters out on the street telling the government to not take it away.  That is the will of the people.

The “tax hikes” that are coming are an end is the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts that were deceivingly set to end after 10-years, so that their impacts wouldn’t need to be analyzed and the impacts to debt shown.  While the GOP focuses often on GDP, I agree with many that a better measure is median and mean average income.  This Times article is quite informational on the topic, and the charts here on State of the USA also paint a picture that the GOP doesn’t like to bring up.  Yes, the USA as a whole has increased GDP quite drastically.  However, for the average person, you were better off, substantially, a decade ago (before the tax cuts) than you are today.

The most infuriating issue with the “Pledge” is that it has few to no concrete details about what programs will be cut.  It talks suddenly about the need for fiscal constraint, during a recession, after 8 years of reckless spending.  It talks about how much we are spending on the paying debt for the US having more in debts than in income.  Yet, when one looks at a chart on US debt, such as this one on Wikipedia, there is a decided trend.  President Regan enters office… debt skyrockets, dips in the latter Clinton years, and then explodes under Bush.  But maybe this is why the “Pledge” likes to couch things in terms of “non-security” discretionary spending.  Maybe it is because of the amount of money (ignoring the literal human cost) poured into Iraq (a war we didn’t need to go into), to the tune of, about $750 billion in roughly the last 8 years.  That’s money that’s not going towards better roads, better education or health care.  Money not going towards the American people that the disingenuous Republican party leadership would have you ignore in the accounting.

All of these falsehoods, burying of true costs, yet the document at the beginning would have you believe it was going to be more transparent.  It’s another pack of lies that the Party leadership would have us believe.  Instead they should come clean and support PRECISE programs they would cut and their impacts.  Otherwise it’s nothing but more hot air.

Bobby Jindal and the two-faces of the modern Republican Party

Today on NPR I was listening to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal talking about how the Federal Government hadn’t done enough to protect Louisiana’s coastline.  Since this seems to be a continuing trend of Republicans and conservatives, I thought I would do my homework about what Bobby Jindal’s stance was about drilling, oil, energy, and the Feds.

To make sure that I heard things correctly, I pulled up several other sources to verify that I heard this staunch anti-big-government Republican say that the Feds had not responded quickly or adequately enough.  From Reuters: “The U.S. Coast Guard and BP failed to take decisions quickly enough and delayed supplying necessary clean-up equipment even as oil washes onto the state’s fragile marshland, said Governor Bobby Jindal.”

In his 2009 GOP response to Obama’s speech: “… we need urgent action to keep energy prices down” including “increase[d] drilling for oil and gas here at home.”  He also believes that “Democratic leaders in Washington – they place their hope in federal government.  We [the Republicans] place our hope in you, the American people. …. We oppose the National Democratic view that says the way to strengthen our country is to increase dependence on government.”

Digging even a little bit farther back, shows that he was a sponsor of the “Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act (HR 4761)” which was a bill to eliminate the moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling.  That’s correct, Governor  (then-Representative) Jindal supported offshore drilling.  The same type of offshore drilling that is now polluting Louisiana coastlines.

Now he is crying out for the US Army Corps of Engineers to build a series of sand berms across the coastline to protect it from oil and hurricanes.  Note: That is the US Army, not the Louisiana National Guard.  (Yes, that is a cheap shot, because the Army Corps of Engineers has jurisdiction, not the Louisiana National Guard… but it helps prove the point.)

Other prominent Louisiana politicians also have their hands in dirty oil money, primarily Republicans, with one Democratic standout: Representative Charlie Melancon.

For once I wish that the same people who beg for federal assistance would put their money where their mouth is: If you don’t want government assistance, then stop asking for it when things go wrong.  Research done by the Tax Foundation also supports this.  For every $1.00 of tax money sent to the feds, Louisiana received $1.45 back.  

So, I would like to put out a proposal to the Republican party: Why don’t you make full disclosure over just how much federal money you have turned down, how many ear-marked bills you culled for your own district, and put the money where your mouth is.  You ask for offshore drilling and little regulation, and you’ve gotten it.  I just wonder how many people affected by the spill were there chanting “Drill, Baby, Drill” during the last presidential election…

Franken Amendment, Republican Strategy, and the Failure of Governance

Earlier this week I posted an article from a guest author to my blog.  Since reading her post and doing some additional research, the issue has come to disgust me even more.  As I posted in a comment to her article, Politico stated that the Republicans had a strategic error in allowing the vote to go for a Roll Call rather than a voice vote.  I think this error is a blessing, for it lets the public know where elected representatives really stand.

The text of Senator Franken’s Amendment is as follows:

  • Sec. 8104. (a) None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any existing or new Federal contract if the contractor or a subcontractor at any tier requires that an employee or independent contractor, as a condition of employment, sign a contract that mandates that the employee or independent contractor performing work under the contract or subcontract resolve through arbitration any claim under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or any tort related to or arising out of sexual assault or harassment, including assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, or negligent hiring, supervision, or retention.
  • (b) The prohibition in subsection (a) does not apply with respect to employment contracts that may not be enforced in a court of the United States.”

In interviews I have watched, those who voted against the Amendment (Franken Amdt. No. 2588), seem to be under the misguided idea that they have no responsibility to change the actions of Halliburton / KBR, or any other Government Contractor.  I have italicised Government contractor because of the first word – Government.  This means that our government, with our tax money, has selected these companies.  It means that they are beholden to the citizens of the US for their actions.  For any elected representative to state otherwise is absolutely ridiculous. 

In most business, I always like to ask myself the question, “How would you feel if it was yourself/family member/neighbor in this situation.”  I can guarantee you, that if it was the representative’s daughter who was gang raped, that there would be a witch hunt going on.  Instead, what we have, is the revealing of what these representatives really feel about the appropriate actions the government and its hired help should take towards your daughter, sister, wife, or neighbor. 

In the uproar’s aftermath, the great responses included such fallacy as this: ““This would be a major, fundamental change in U.S. labor law and I believe it would be very detrimental to employees to eliminate arbitration as an option,” Isakson said.”  (The Sun News)    I’ll convert this statement by Senator Isakson to english for the rest of us: “Allowing rape by US contractors is fine.” 

Before my anger at these Senators overrides the rest of my good judgement and I go overboard, I’ll present the good names, and states, of those who oppose allowing American citizens the chance to have their day in court against companies, funded by the US government, that allow these practices to go on:

Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Gregg (R-NH)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kyl (R-AZ)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

I have bolded Senator McCain’s name here for a specific reason.  He is one of the members of Congress that I used to respect the most.  However, I believe the Maverick has lost his steam, his drive, and his innate, fundamental sense of what is right and wrong.  Not only did he oppose Franken’s amendment, last year he also voted against the torture ban

My only question really at this point for the Republican Party is this – WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?

US Republicans Side With Halliburton & KBR Against Gang-Raped Woman

The following is from a friend of mine who reads my blog and wanted to share their experience with something happening right now in Congress.  Per the author’s request, I am leaving their submission anonymous.

~Nat

This is a truly disgusting story and unfortunately not uncommon. When I arrived into theater in 2004 I was informed in the most casual ways that I had a 98% chance of being raped in my first 2 months. I was, from my very first hour there, sexually harassed, intimidated and made to feel like there was nothing I could do about it. Bets were taken right in front of me on how long it would take for me to finally sleep with someone and then I was taken aside by a few of the men and asked to please not let it be more than a certain amount of time as they didn’t want to lose.

I was in Baghdad for nearly six full months. I lived, worked and socialized with my American co-workers 7 days a week.  I was lucky, I was never raped in all that time. However, I was sexually assaulted, twice. My flat-mate, someone I shared an adjoining wall with, who was about to become my boss’s boss within the next 6 to 8 weeks, was the perpetrator in both incidents. I won’t go into the details of either incident because it is unnecessary to know how things played out. Needless to say after telling the local HR officials, I was not transferred, neither was he and in order to not stay in the situation, I had to quit my job.

I did file an HR complaint. I tried to file a complaint with the US Government, but to no avail.  I feel I am lucky – had anything worse happened to me I would have been in the same position as this woman because EVERY contracting company makes you sign a waiver from suing the company and only use arbitration.

What makes me so sad is that THIRTY Congressmen, including former Presidential Nominee McCain, voted against a bill that would empower the employees and enable them to take the proper legal action required to see justice.  I am SO incredibly happy the appeals court ruled the way it did.

To close out, here is a clip from The Daily Show.

Michael Steele and the failure of Republican leadership

Michael Steele might be either the most brilliant, or the amongst the most idiotic political figures of our generation.  To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure which.  What is absolutely clear to me, however, is that Michael Steele is willing to do whatever he can to absolutely ignore the most blatant facts and truths about his own hypocrisy possible.  Simultaneously, he also makes Bill Clinton look downright credible about the Monica Lewinsky affair.

Over the last week, on NPR as well as at a Town Hall style meeting, Steele, the Chair of the Republican Party, has shown how far out of touch with reality he is.  During the NPR discussion, he struggled to somehow cast Medicare as both a beneficial, yet government run health-care option.  Something that is clearly: A) fairly well received, B) government run, and C) is not going anywhere anytime soon.  He says “it has not been run efficiently and well enough to sustain itself.”  Perhaps something to do with raids into the retirement accounts during the 1990s?

He continues to blunder, and below is an except where Mr. Steele almost *gasp* says that government did something right.  It is purely shameful, that someone of his stature, also apparently doesn’t realize that the government regulates things.  Granted, it seems he become heavily involved in politics around the time of the Moral Majority, and the general decline of government scope and power.  Still, a little history is good to know about what the government does.

INSKEEP: You said that’s something that should be looked into. Who is it that should look into that?

Mr. STEELE: I’m talking about those who – well, who regulates the insurance markets?

INSKEEP: That would be the government, I believe.

Mr. STEELE: Well, and so it – wait a minute, hold up. You know, you’re doing a wonderful little dance here and you’re trying to be cute, but the reality of this is very simple. I’m not saying the government doesn’t have a role to play. I’ve never said that. The government does have a role to play. The government has a very limited role to play.

INSKEEP: Mr. Chairman, I respect that you feel that I’m doing a dance here. I just want you to know that as a citizen, I’m a little confused by the positions you take because you’re giving me a very nice nuanced position here.

Mr. STEELE: It’s not nice and nuanced. I’m being very clear.

INSKEEP: You’re giving me, nevertheless, a nuanced position, a careful…

Mr. STEELE: What’s nuanced? What don’t you understand?

INSKEEP: What nuance means is you’re not doing it absolutely black and white. You’re saying you recognize the government has a role to play here, but when you…

Mr. STEELE: Wait a minute. But that is the – is that a…

INSKEEP: …and your party…

Mr. STEELE: …not reality?

INSKEEP: Come to the actual rhetoric, it seems more along the lines of absolutes. It’s between the patient and the doctor.

Needless to say, I do enjoy some level of confidence that the average American, could come out and say, “Yes, the government does regulate things.”  And, by the way Mr. Steele, nice little dance you did there, particularly with trying to blame Mr. Inskeep, rather than admit your own failings to develop a clear, reasoned and rational answer.

Continuing on to Mr. Steele’s second blunder:  the Town Hall meeting, where Amanda Duzak presents her story about how her mother, “died of cancer 6 months ago because she could only afford three of her six prescription chemotherapy medications,” she projected. “There are 50 million people in this country who could end up like my mom, suffering or dying because they do not have adequate health care. Everyone in this room and everyone in this country should have access to good health care.”

Mr. Steele’s nuanced, considerate response:

“After saying that he believed in a mature, honest discussion and not in shouting, Steele said, “People are coming to these town meetings and they’re like [he then shakes].” He then looked and gestured right at Ms. Duzak and said, “It makes for great TV. You’ll probably make it tonight, enjoy it.””

See the video here (around 2:25 is when it gets to him making his smart-ass remark about it making great TV).  For a much better audio version from C-SPAN: here (around 1:00 in is Amanda, his response about TV at ~3:15).

There is no excuse for Mr. Steele’s response.  Should she have been up and shouting?  I do not think so.  But was his tone, body language, and speech the correct reply, particularly after having about two minutes to think things through?  Absolutely not.

If this is the best leadership the Republican party can present, it shows a deep seated rot within the party.  Simply put, it stinks.  Michael Steele needs to go.  He presents himself in a petty-minded, scornful, and hateful manner that clearly shows disregard for those he does not agree with.  In the name of full disclosure, I am a member of the Republican party (for various reasons, since I support a split in party control between the Legislative and Executive branches, and the necessity of party membership to fully participate in most political processes), but Mr. Steele makes me feel shameful for having this identification, in a way that only Dick Cheney has managed to do.

In essence, if the Republican party ever has a hope of regaining its roots, based in small, laisse-faire style governance, the moderates need to start making their stand against the ultraconservative right wing.  This is my voice, hopefully which others will hear, so that change can start to be enacted from within the party.