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?

From What Planet Do the Right-Wing Nut-Jobs Hail and Can We Deport Them?

As we suffered through this last election cycle, women across this nation were subjected to myth after myth about how our bodies really worked, by men who clearly are NOT familiar in any way shape or form as to how our female parts actually do work. First there were all those mythical statements about how we can’t get pregnant if we’re “legitimately” raped—

  • “I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen (that it’s a ‘gift’ from god)” — Richard Mourdock, (R-MO)
  • 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.” — Rep. Henry Aldridge (R- )
  • “Concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.” — Federal Judge James Leon Holmes, a Bush appointee
  • “The odds that a woman who is raped will get pregnant are ‘one in millions and millions and millions.” Rep. Stephen Freind (R- )
  • “First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare … If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”  Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO)

Then it devolved to rants and raves about how allowing women to have birth control would destroy our nation’s religious liberty.

  • This is not a question about contraception, this is about separation of church and state.  I just think that was a overreach and an overstep by government.” — WWE executive and Republican Candidate Linda McMahon
  • Birth control is a license to do things in a sexual realm that are counter to how things are supposed to be.” Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum
  • “Back in my day, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”
    ~ Foster Friess, billionaire investor in Rick Santorum’s SuperPAC
  • Then came the Blunt Amendment, legislation sponsored by Republican Roy Blunt of Missouri, was voted down 51 to 48. It would have let employers refuse to include contraception in health care coverage based on their “religious belief or moral conviction.”
  • “What does it say about the college coed Susan Fluke [sic], who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.”
    ”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 for it. We want you post the videos online so we can all watch…I will buy all of the women at Georgetown University as much Aspirin to put between their knees as they want…” —  Right-Wing radio pundit, Rush Limbaugh, talking about Georgetown Law Student, Sandra Fluke, who was allowed to speak to Democrats but who was prohibited from speaking to an all-male Republican meeting on Capitol Hill about women needing birth control for reasons beyond contraception.

It sickened us all, but the crazies on the right have decided to once again escalate their war on women and simultaneously broadcast their absolute ignorance about how women’s bodies work.  A classic example of that renewed effort from the right is posted over at Right-Wing Watch today (complete with excerpts of the actual audio broadcast):

Swanson: Wombs of Women on Birth Control ‘Embedded’ with ‘Dead Babies’

— by Miranda Blue on Friday, 2/1/2013 1:10 pm

Well, here’s some medical research we hadn’t heard about. Generations Radio host Kevin Swanson, who last week delved memorably into feminist theory, tells us this week that “certain doctors and certain scientists” have researched the wombs of women on the pill and found “there are these little tiny fetuses, these little babies, that are embedded into the womb…Those wombs of women who have been on the birth control pill effectively have become graveyards for lots and lots of little babies.”

Swanson must be speaking with the same doctors as former Rep. Todd Akin. Even Kevin Peeples, whom Swanson is interviewing about his anti-contraception documentary Birth Control: How Did We Get Here?, isn’t quite sold on the evidence.

Swanson: I’m beginning to get some evidence from certain doctors and certain scientists that have done research on women’s wombs after they’ve gone through the surgery, and they’ve compared the wombs of women who were on the birth control pill to those who were not on the birth control pill. And they have found that with women who are on the birth control pill, there are these little tiny fetuses, these little babies, that are embedded into the womb. They’re just like dead babies. They’re on the inside of the womb. And these wombs of women who have been on the birth control pill effectively have become graveyards for lots and lots of little babies.

Peeples: We’ve actually heard on both sides of that. We’re researching that and want to make sure we speak correctly to that in our second film. But we have medical advice on both sides of the table there, so we want to make sure that we communicate that properly.

Swanson: It would seem, and I realize that people are a little split on what are all the effects of the birth control pill, but it would seem that there’s a tremendous risk in the use of it for the life of children.

Earlier in the interview, Peeples and Swanson discuss how birth control came to be widely used and accepted by many churches. Women, Peeples laments, “desire the men’s role” and are now missing out on “the role God put them in that he laid out in Genesis.” Before World War II, Peeples claims, “abortion, sterilization, eugenics and birth control were all tied together” until “Hitler took the fall for taking it very aggressively and dramatically.”

Peeples: It starts with men and women fighting and not being happy with the role that God put them in that he laid out in Genesis. So whenever you seek to desire, when women seek to desire the men’s role, they lose the part and the idea of what children does, not just for the kingdom and not just does with their family, but does for their gender role.

Swanson: Are you saying that the population control stuff, egalitarian feminism, birth control, abortion, they’re all sort of interrelated?

Peeples: Yeah, it wasn’t until after World War II that they begin to separate them. Abortion, sterilization, eugenics and birth control were all tied together, they were all kind of a package for eugenics and population control. Hitler took the fall for taking it very aggressively and dramatically, and so they said, ‘Hey, let’s kind of take this back, let’s get rid of the negative things and let’s play on Christian liberty, let’s play on freedom, let’s play on people kind of taking this upon themselves to control population rather than forcing it on them. So, again, it’s just another effect of not researching our history to know what happened in the world alongside of the Church.

I’m sorry, that absolutely infuriates me.  From which planet do these right-wing whacked-out nut-jobs swoop in from each day and why the hell haven’t our immigration agents sent them back from whence they came, and barred them from returning?  Women’s bodies do NOT work that way. Did they get an “F” in their 7th grade health class?  Not only that, THIS is NOT the United States of Stepford where women should expect to be nothing more that incubators for man’s seed while running around barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen cooking dinner while silent as a lamb.

Every single woman on this planet knows that that’s why we have periods or why women unable to complete a pregnancy have a what’s called a “miscarriage” which expells the remains of the failed pregnancy.   BOTH of those processes are the equivalent of Mother Nature doing a bit of spring cleaning such that the woman’s uterus is cleaned up and ready for another try at implanting a fertilized egg on the wall of that very clean wall!

Our National Failure to Commit

The Senate hasn’t approved any major multilateral treaties since 1997.

— By Don Kraus

Don Kraus

America is suffering from a failure to commit. Just ask Bob Dole.

While the former GOP presidential candidate and decorated veteran watched from his wheelchair on the Senate floor, all but eight of the Republicans in that chamber shamefully voted down the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

It’s hardly a radical pact. To date, 126 other countries have ratified this treaty. Dole, who served as Senate Majority and Minority Leader for more than a decade, had championed it. So did veterans groups, disability rights organizations, and even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The treaty simply took our own Americans with Disabilities Act, and “expanded that kind of rights to people all over the world who don’t have them today,” explained Senator John McCain of Arizona, another former Republican presidential nominee and veteran with a disability.

But it takes two-thirds of the Senate to ratify a treaty, and even with all 53 senators in the Democratic caucus supporting it, too few Republicans got on board for it to pass.

The treaty’s opponents seem stuck in a partisan twilight zone of UN black helicopters and conspiracy theories that undercuts U.S. influence in global affairs. They’ve perfected a method of defeating virtually every treaty that comes along. Since controversial treaties never pass in the Senate, opponents make any unobjectionable agreement divisive by inventing a big lie.

UN-ObamaThat global women’s rights treaty? Too pro-abortion. The International Criminal Court? A kangaroo court out to get American service members. TheConvention on the Rights of the Child? Kids could sue their parents. The UN Law of the Sea? An excuse to slap unfair global tax on Americans. An arms trade treaty? A ploy to deprive Americans of their right to bear arms.

To sabotage the disabilities treaty, Senator Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, joined forces with former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. Together, they crafted a ludicrous excuse for Republicans to rally around. Lee falsely claimed that the treaty would allow “a foreign body based in Geneva, Switzerland” to decide “what is best for a child at home in Utah.” They used this big lie to mobilize vocal opposition from the home-school movement.

These ploys generate enough angry messages from constituents to block the requisite approval for the United States to become a party to the treaty. In fact, the Senate hasn’t approved any major multilateral treaties at all since it endorsed the Chemical Weapons convention in 1997 — a year after Dole retired from Congress.

The Senate’s habitual failure to commit threatens our nation. It erodes U.S. global leadership. It limits our ability to express our collective values and blocks the development of worldwide agreements to address very real challenges that can decimate our civilization, including climate change and nuclear proliferation.

Fortunately, there’s a simple way to defeat big lies. It’s called the truth.

Barack Obama, like all presidents who serve two terms, has a big incentive to leave a foreign-policy legacy. Here’s my suggestion: He should lead a national dialogue on global agreements, followed by a special Senate session devoted to clearing the backlog of multilateral agreements the United States has failed to approve.

A majority of U.S. voters support adopting each one of the above-mentioned treaties. Business, labor, civil society, and national security leaders are behind them too. The only thing missing is leadership and a serious discussion of the consequences of this national failure.

Ratifying these treaties would do little or nothing to ramp up U.S. spending but it would go a long way toward rebuilding the nation’s global credibility. We’d gain international respect and increase long term security by taking strides towards solving big global challenges like climate change and nuclear proliferation — problems that can’t be resolved by any one nation, no matter how powerful.

Americans understand that international cooperation is essential to build a more secure world. It’s high time that the Senate did something about it.


Don Kraus is the president and CEO of GlobalSolutions.org, a groundbreaking movement of Americans who support a cooperative and responsible U.S. role in the world.
Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)

Health Insurance Companies Are Charging Women an Extra Billion Dollars Annually

By Thom Hartmann, The Thom Hartmann Program | Report

In today’s On the News segment: Health insurance companies are charging women in America an extra billion dollars annually, the backlash against Paul Ryan’s radical budget plan continues, the DOJ says Florida is discriminating against minority voters, and more.

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Mitt Romney – the richest man to ever run for President on a major party ticket – cleaned up last night in the Illinois Primary – beating Rick Santorum 47% to 35%. And, as could be expected, Romney’s huge cash advantage helped him win Illinois. He outspent Santorum 7-1 in the state, to pick up at least 41 new delegates to add to his growing lead. Still – if Romney hopes to reach the magic number of 1,144 delegates to secure the nomination before the Republican Convention – he’ll have to collect just less than half of all the remaining delegates. That’s a feat that could be difficult if Newt Gingrich – who placed an abysmal fourth in the Illinois Primary – drops out and hands his supporters off to Santorum. Then again – if multi-millionaire Karl Rove’s SuperPAC “American Crossroads” – which currently has $23.5 million in cash on hand – decides to pick Romney as its guy – then Mitt’s campaign might easily buy the Republican nomination without even getting out of breath.

American Women are screwed. Putting aside the Republican’s war on women for a moment – a new report from the National Women’s Law Center reveals that health insurance companies are charging women in America an extra billion dollars annually, and it’s just good old fashioned gender discrimination. The report finds that the practice of for-profit health insurers charging women more than men for identical coverage is widespread – and states are doing little to stop the rip-off. In the states that don’t ban health insurance gender discrimination, 92% of the best-selling plans charge women more than men. President Obama’s Affordable Care Act would ban this practice nationally – saving women a billion dollars a year. Unfortunately for women – Republicans are working as hard as they can to repeal Obamacare.

In the best of the rest of the news…

The backlash against Paul Ryan’s radical budget plan continues. A number of faith leaders have come forward to blast Ryan’s extremist vision for America, which takes health insurance away from 48 million Americans to pay for a $3 trillion tax cut for the richest 1%. Bishop Gene Robinson said about the budget plan, “The Ryan budget robs the poor, the marginalized, and the vulnerable of the safety net so integral to their survival. By any measure of civility and regard for one’s neighbor, it’s an immoral disaster.” Ryan’s plan also hands Medicare to for-profit health insurance CEOs, and makes massive cuts to Social Security, setting the stage to hand Social Security’s $2.6 trillion trust fund over to Wall Street. No wonder Wall Street billionaires have reportedly been seen wearing “Paul Ryan for VP” pins.

The Department of Justice says Florida is discriminating against minority voters. Last year, Florida passed a new that clamps down on people helping others to register to vote, and also cuts back on early voting. But the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department is now filing a challenge to the new law in court, claiming that Florida failed to prove that these election law changes will not, “deny or abridge the right to vote on the basis of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.” States with a history of rical discrimination – like Florida – must have any changes to their election laws approved by the Justice Department. Time – and the courts – will tell if Governor Rick Scott’s plan to keep minority voters away from the polls this year works.

Who’s going to foot the bill for climate change? According to a new study out of the Stockholm Environment Institute – increasing greenhouse gases will cost over $2 trillion a year in damage to our planet’s oceans by the end of the century. With warmer oceans comes greater acidification – which wipes out fisheries and coral reefs. Plus, rising sea levels and stronger storms do costly damage to coastlines. Nonetheless – we’re giving tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to transnational oil corporations to accelerate climate change – rather than making them pay for the damage they’re causing. This is not only irresponsible – it’s outright dangerous – and means that future generations of Americans will have to cope with a much harsher planet.

Speaking of climate change – the war on science heads to Tennessee. This week – the Tennessee state legislature passed a bill requiring public schools to teach that there’s a “controversy” over evolution and global warming. As the law states, “The teaching of biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning, can cause controversy,” thus school systems must, “present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies.” Critics are blasting the legislation – calling it a “monkey bill” that will lead to creationism being taught in classrooms. Something tells me the big oil lobby is behind this too – hoping that a new generation of Americans denying global warming will keep their fossil fuel profits flowing for another generation.

Meanwhile, in the Middle East, while leaders in Israel and Iran beat the drum to war – the people living in those nations are calling for peace. Recognizing that they’re the ones who will suffer the most from a war, individual citizens in Iran and Israel are taking to Facebook to reach out to each other, in hopes of finding solidarity and mutual respect. The campaign started when an Israeli couple created the Facebook group “Israelis Heart Iran.” Then, a group of Iranians responded with their own “Iranians Love Israel.” The two groups have garnered thousands of followers and responses since going online.

And finally, Ron Paul – the only candidate in the Republican race for President who has not won a state – is coming out against Secret Service protection. All major candidates for President are entitled to Secret Service protection within 120 days of a general election – but Paul is calling that a “form of welfare.” That’s no big surprise since Ron Paul also thinks federal aid to college students, health insurance assistance to poor people, free public roads, and cops and firefighters are welfare too. But Ron Paul shouldn’t worry too much. Considering he’s only running for President to get his son, Rand, a job in Romney’s cabinet – Paul likely won’t be considered a “major candidate” anyway.

And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, March 21st, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.

   This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Selling the Law to the Highest Bidder

 Alan Grayson (http://www.congressmanwithguts.com)

It’s getting really hard to be topical.  In the issue of New Yorker magazine dated January 9, 2012 – that’s today — the lead article is about the rise of Newt Gingrich.

Newt who?  Newt Gingrich?  Is he the guy who thought that if he stuck four fingers between the buttons in his shirt, he actually became Napoleon?

(By the way, America, Newt Gingrich is very disappointed in you.  I just thought you should know that.)

But this note is not about Newt Gingrich; it’s about Rick Santorum.  Who remains topical until 8 p.m. tomorrow, when the polls close in New Hampshire.  Because New Hampshire Republicans are finding it difficult to square a Santorum state ban on contraception with the motto “Live Free or Die.”

But this note is not about contraception; it’s about weather forecasts.  Which are always topical.

Rick Santorum tried to ban weather forecasts.  Actually, not all weather forecasts.  Just government weather forecasts.

I realize that you could possibly be a little skeptical about that, so here is the bill, at the official Senate website.  Sections 2(b) and 2(d) of the National Weather Services [sic] Duties Act of 2005, S. 786, 109th Cong., 1st Sess.

By the way, Santorum introduced this bill a few months after four different hurricanes hit Central Florida, where I live.  In one of those hurricanes, a big chunk of my roof collapsed, right into the living room.  So weather forecasts are sort of important in my community.  A matter of life and death, you might say.

Now you must be thinking, “Wow, that guy Santorum is a REAL conservative.” Santorum recognizes that government weather forecasts are meteorological socialism; they are a serious infringement on your constitutional right not to know whether it will rain tomorrow.  Santorum sees that weather forecasts are a government takeover of the skies.  In fact, Santorum is such an astute and profound conservative thinker that he probably realizes that traffic lights are a government takeover of the roads.

But this note is not about traffic lights.  It’s about Rick Santorum and government weather forecasts.  And why Rick Santorum tried to ban them.

Here’s why.  It’s because AccuWeather is a commercial weather forecasting company, and AccuWeather employees gave Santorum more than $5,000 in campaign contributions. Then he introduced the bill.  Which subsequently and consequently led to Santorum being named as one of Congress’s “most corrupt politicians.”  Which is saying a lot.

I can picture the conversation:

AccuWeather lobbyist:  “Here is $5000 in bundled contributions from AccuWeather.  Now introduce a bill to ban government weather forecasts.”

Santorum:  “OK.  Sure.  Why not?  Whatever.  I love this cheesecake.”

And that is what I’ve seen over and over again.  This thing called “conservative ideology” has degenerated to the point where it exists simply to spew out rationalizations for something else entirely:  whatever the corporate lobbyists want.

A topic that will remain topical, I’m sure, well after the polls close in New Hampshire tomorrow night.