Border Boondoggle

The GOP’s “just build a wall” simpletons don’t know what they’re talking about.

Jim HightowerGood fences, wrote Robert Frost, make good neighbors.

But an 18-foot high, 2,000-mile wall? That’s another story. It just antagonizes your neighbor — and shows your own fear and weakness.

Yet this is what self-described conservatives running for president propose to build to stop migrants from coming across our country’s southern border. Simple, right? Just fence ’em out!

Haven’t we already tried this?

In 2006, Congress mandated the construction of a wall along the 1,954 miles of our border with Mexico. A decade later, guess how many miles have been completed? About 650. It turns out that erecting a monstrous wall isn’t so simple after all.

U.S.-US-Mexico-border-crossing-fence-wall

Tony Webster / Flickr

First, it’s ridiculously expensive — about $10 billion just for the materials to build from the tip of Texas to the Pacific, not counting labor costs and maintenance.

Second, there’s the prickly problem of land acquisition: To erect the first 650 miles of fence, the federal government had to sue hundreds of property owners to take their land. Odd, isn’t it, that right-wing politicos who loudly rail against government overreach now favor using government muscle to grab private property?

Third, it’s impossible to fence the whole border. Hundreds of miles of it lie along the Rio Grande’s flood plain, and more miles cross the steep mountainous terrain of southern Arizona.

Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and the other “just build a wall” simpletons either don’t know what they’re talking about or are deliberately trying to dupe voters.

Before you buy a 2,000-mile wall from them, take a peek at the small part already built. Because of the poor terrain and legal prohibitions, it’s not one long fence, but a fragment here and another there, with miles of gaps. Anyone wanting to cross into the United States can just go to one of the gaps and walk through.

But when they’re just trying to stir up fear of foreigners, what’s honesty have to do with it?


OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also the editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower LowdownOtherWords.org

The Right-Wing’s UnAmerican Rhetoric

Hitler1aFrankly, I’m ashamed of the anti-islamic rhetoric being spewed forth by those on the right (or should I say wrong) side of the political spectrum.  With Republican candidates calling refugees nothing more than rabid dogs (Ben Carson), espousing registration of anyone who is a Muslim (Donald Trump), saying that we should take in ‘Christian’ refugees but not ‘Muslim refugees (Bush) and stomping the crap out of our constitutional right to freedom of assembly (Marco Rubio), I truly hope Americans start waking up to what the Republican party has apparently become — the party of Hitler.

Here’s a few of the headlines that make me wonder exactly “what” the Republicans want to “take our country back to.”

Articles from the right

Articles from the left

Meanwhile, newly anointed Speaker Ryan pushed forth legislation (HR 4038) that would pretty much put a halt to resettlement of any Syrian refugees on U.S. soil claiming “It’s a security test, not a religious test. This reflects our values.”  HR4038, which was passed by the House yesterday, was introduced shortly after the terrorist attacks by the fear mongerers of the right-wing.  Never mind that the attacks in Paris were NOT conducted by Syrians, but by homegrown radicalized French and Belgian domestic terrorists.  So while any French or Belgian domestic terrorist could present their official EU passport, travel to the U.S. and commit an act of terrorism in the U.S., we’ll be preventing non-violent Syrian refugees from being able to escape the horrors of terrorism for themselves and their family.

Speaker Ryan has portrayed our current vetting process as being seriously broken, Democratic Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD5), on the other hand, claims he’s wrong. “The bill rests on a faulty assumption that the European refugee screening process is similar to the United States screening process. This is entirely inaccurate,” he wrote in today’s Daily Whip. Rather than improve security, Hoyer said that HR4038 would prevent refugees from entering the country by making the vetting process overly inefficient. He described the bill as a “knee-jerk reaction” to a situation in Europe dissimilar to our own.  Unfortunately, even with Democratic leadership against the bill, one-fourth of Democrats succumbed to the hysteria and voted to pass it in the House vote.

Under existing law, the United States vets refugees for one-and-a-half to two years before allowing refugees to enter the country. If enacted (President Obama has vowed to veto it), this bill would likely halt the screening process.  Just as the Republicans have never gotten around to proposing any alternative to the Affordable Care Act, and as they’ve passed one bill after another to nullify any actions taken by the EPA to protect our environment, they’d likely pass yet another bill to nullify any actions taken to rectify their ‘vetting’ concerns.

The Paris attacks have sparked deeply troubling, abhorrent anti-Muslim rhetoric and anti-immigrant policy proposals from the Republicans in Congress that not only don’t represent our American values, but they’re contrary to the principles outlined in our U.S. Constitution.  I just hope that Americans, especially those new citizen immigrants, all across our nation are paying attention. Enough is enough!  It’s time for us to cast our votes FOR American values and AGAINST those who have clearly demonstrated they would trample them in a heartbeat.

First GOP Debate Offers A Preview Of The Same Throwback Policies

Press Release: Hillary for America

Hillary4NVDuring the first debate last night, we heard the second-tier GOP candidates lay out an agenda both out of date and out of touch with the needs of everyday Americans. Here are some of the examples of what Republicans running for President view as their most important job:

  • Break up families and put them at risk of deportation
  • Allow discrimination against LGBT Americans
  • Limit access to women’s health care
  • Let Wall Street write its own rules again

Unfortunately, the lower-tier candidates are not the exception; they are the rule.  Here’s where the Republicans in the main event stand on those very same issues:


Immigration

Trump: Do we really need to get into this? Okay, here’s one you might not have heard: “We got to move ’em out, we’re going to move ’em back in if they’re really good people.”

Jeb Bush: Opposes a path to citizenship and would repeal President Obama’s executive orders on DAPA and DACA.

Scott Walker: Opposes a path to citizenship.

Mike Huckabee: Said he would repeal President Obama’s executive action on immigration and opposes a path to citizenship.

Ben Carson: Proposes giving undocumented immigrants a path to 2nd class status, denying them access to all but the least wanted jobs.

Ted Cruz: Said “I think a path to citizenship for those who are here illegally is profoundly unfair…”

Marco Rubio: Voted three times to block President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

Rand Paul: Introduced legislation that could lead to the deportation of 4 million undocumented immigrants including DREAMers.

Chris Christie: Thinks a path to citizenship is “pandering” and has said he would immediately reverse President Obama’s executive action on immigration.

John Kasich: His administration is suing to stop President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.


Marriage Equality

Donald Trump: Opposes marriage equality.

Jeb Bush: Said he does not believe in a constitutional right to marriage equality, calling traditional marriage a ‘sacrament.’

Scott Walker: Said the Supreme Court’s decision was a” grave mistake” and called for a Constitutional amendment to transfer power over marriage laws to the states.

Mike Huckabee: Called the Supreme Court an “imperial court” for ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. In 2010, he went as far as comparing same-sex marriage to incest, polygamy and drug use.

Ben Carson: Disagreed with the Supreme Court’s decision and promised he would support “creative” legislation to “negate” the ruling if he were elected President.  

Ted Cruz:  Stated the Supreme Court’s decision was “among the darkest hours our nation,” called for a constitutional amendment that would subject Supreme Court justices to periodic judicial elections and said that Texas County Clerks should be able to op-out of issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

Marco Rubio: Disagreed with the Supreme Court’s ruling and reaffirmed his belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Rand Paul: Argued after the Supreme Court decision that the time has come to get government out of recognizing marriage altogether.

Chris Christie: He disagreed with the Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage. In 2012, Christie vetoed legislation to legalize same sex marriage in New Jersey in 2012.

John Kasich: Said he was disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision and reiterated his belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.


Women’s Health

Donald Trump: Supports shutting down the government to defund Planned Parenthood.

Jeb Bush: Said he would sign an extreme abortion ban bill without exceptions for rape and incest.

Scott Walker: Just signed a 20-week abortion ban with no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. Infamously said rape victims are “most concerned” about pregnancy “in the initial months.”

Mike Huckabee: Wants to overturn Roe vs. Wade and has even compared giving women control of their own medical decisions to slavery.

Ben Carson: Compared legal abortion to the practice of ‘heathen’ human sacrifices by ancient civilizations

Ted Cruz: Opposes abortion without exceptions for rape, incest, or health of the mother and says he would shut down the government in order to defund Planned Parenthood.

Marco Rubio: Wants to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

Rand Paul: Has stated quite simply that he “will always vote for any and all legislation that would end abortion.” Paul introduced personhood legislation that could outlaw commonly used forms of birth control and opposes exceptions for rape and incest.

Chris Christie: Has described himself as “unapologetically” pro life.

John Kasich: Signed a 20-week abortion ban without an exception for life or health of the mother. He also mandated medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion that have led to the closing of women’s health clinics.


Wall Street Reform (Dodd-Frank)

Donald Trump: Criticized Dodd-Frank. [Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto, 9/19/13]

Jeb Bush: Said, “We should repeal” Dodd-Frank.

Scott Walker: Said “It’s time to repeal #DoddFrank.”

Mike Huckabee: called Dodd-Frank a “pot of burned beans” and a “piece of insanity.”

Ben Carson: called Dodd-Frank and the CFPB “one of the latest massive expansions” of government and said the CFPB was “the ultimate example of regulatory overreach, a nanny state mechanism asserting its control over everyday Americans.” Carson pointed to the CFPB as “exactly the sort of agency I plan to rein in.”

Ted Cruz: Said “We need to repeal Dodd-Frank.”

Marco Rubio: Said “We need to repeal Dodd-Frank.” He also cosponsored legislation to do it.

Rand Paul: cosponsored legislation to repeal Dodd-Frank.

Chris Christie: Criticized Dodd-Frank.

John Kasich: said Dodd-Frank “went overboard,” and when asked about why no bankers went to jail after the financial crisis, he said: “It’s not like the system was rigged.”


 For more on the GOP’s out of touch and out of date agenda for Americans, check the Hillary for America rapid response activity on The Briefing here.

Off the Cliff and a Whole Lot More

Yesterday, I took the time to watch both the Fox Debates, both minor and major.  It’s the first time I’ve watched FoxNews ever, I think.

The first debate was at 2PM.  I was amazed and dismayed at the overall tone presented by Fox and it’s hosts toward their party’s candidates.  Why was it necessary to stage it in such a way to maximize their ability to show they were playing to an empty arena?  Why did they continually pan in on the hosts in such a way that they could show what few audience member there were either talking amongst themselves or texting to others?  But most importantly, why prey (I use that misspelling purposefully) tell, did they ask such rude questions of “their” candidates as though they had no right to be there and they were imposing on the hosts.

In the second debate, that of their “major” candidates at 6 PM, the verbal assaults continued.  Though different hosts for both debate sessions, the tone each team used in asking their questions was one of denigration of the participants on the stage.  Why did they position the camera to ensure it showed Sen. Lindsey Graham standing on a box so he appeared taller? Why did the pan to Gov. Scott Walker everytime he did his boobble-head routine as Dr. Ben Carson was speaking?  Grant you, I don’t believe that any of the Republican candidates are worthy of holding the office they’re seeking, but still, a modicum of civility should have been maintained.

Additionally, I thought most interesting was that no instructions were given to the audience to display no emotion, no yelling, no clapping and candidates were left trying to talk over the audience to make their points during the one minute allowed for their responses.

The 2nd debate started with a question immediately aimed at their number one candidate.  Would he pledge to support whoever won the Republican nomination and not wage an independent run for the Presidency?  Mr. Trump would not make that pledge.  Other stabs at Mr. Trump included jabs about his four bankruptcies, his transition from pro-choice to pro-life, and his donations to the Clinton Foundation.  The answer to the donation issues absolutely made the case for needing to do something about the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and getting the money out of politics.

What I learned is that there are relatively NO policy differences between the 17 Republican candidates.  It was like watching “group think” in practice.  Each and every one of them want to “repeal and replace” anything and everything that has been enacted to pull our nation out of the ditch their Republican predecessors  so abruptly put us in by the end of 2008.  They want to repeal and replace the Dodd/Frank financial regulation, but not one indicated ‘what’ they intended to replace it with.  They want to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), but again, not one indicated ‘what’ they intended to replace it with.  Then, they all resoundingly declared they would roll back any and all environmental regulations aimed at mitigating ‘climate change’ and though no one used the phrase, it was clear their means to assure ‘energy independence’ really meant more ‘drill baby, drill’ anywhere and everywhere around the globe.

Every one of the debaters except former CEO Carly Fiorina loudly declared they’d quelch the Iran Deal and re-impose sanctions.  Fiorina instead declared she would make two calls on day one, one to Israel’s Prime Minister BiBi Netanhayu and the second to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to let them know exactly where we stood as a nation.  The rest were pretty much in favor of literally ripping it the agreement in front of TV cameras in the oval office on Day One. Not one of those ripper-uppers could explain how they’d get China, Russia, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and any other foreign governments that it would be prudent to scrap all joint diplomatic efforts made over the last two years negotiating with Iran only to go back.  Additionally, none of them offered an any explanation as to how that might make the global community at large any safer from the threat of nuclear annihilation.

Gov. Christy declared that we should raise the retirement age.  Senator Lindsey Grahamsomehow managed to work into any question he was asked, that we should increase the number of troops in the ground in darn near every country in the middle east. So if you think America should dominate the world militarily, he’s definitely your guy.  Former Senator Rick Santorum wants to send pink slips to >100,000 employees at the IRS and impose a flat 20% tax.  He didn’t expand on that to indicate whether that would be assessed on those families who earn wages and whether it would also apply to those who merely earn dividends/interest from stock and other financial instruments. Former Gov. Huckabee also wanted a flat tax and declared he would go after prostitutes, pimps and drug pushers to make sure they paid their fair share (but interestingly, for a preacher, didn’t say he would prosecute them for such crimes).

As expected, and whenever possible, when stretched for an answer to the question, there was clearly some Hillary Clinton bashing.  One of them went so far as to declare “at leastBernie Sanders has the decency to call himself a socialist.”

But the most disturbing declarations of the night were the number of candidates who not only want to totally defund planned parenthood, but who espouse ‘personhood’ … that once conceived, the rights of the fetus are paramount to those of the woman who’s carrying that fetus. Sen. Ted Cruz declared solemnly that on Day One, he would dispatch DOJ, IRS and any other governmental dept/agency he could to investigate and “persecute” (his word) Planned Parenthood.  Sen. Marco Rubio went so far as to proudly declare that he would even outlaw abortion not just for incest, but when the life of the mother was in peril as well. That certainly puts women in their place across the nation doesn’t it.  Apparently, we’ve been demoted to mere incubators for men’s seed.  I hope women across this nation paid close attention during this debate and will pay even closer attention as further debates ensue.  In the interim, here’s some information about where the candidates from both sides stand on women’s issues.  Make sure you share it with your Republican lady friends:


The Democrats:

257
256
251
244
248


Now the other side—The Major Candidates Republicans:

238
239
243
245
255
259
254
253
258
242


The Minor Candidate Republicans:

249
247
241
240
250

A work-up for former Jim Gilmore is not yet available as he just recently joined the race, because, well you know, it looked like a good opportunity?

267,000

Mar 8, 2013 | By ThinkProgress War Room

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