The crazy train is really picking up steam. US News reported on a "rally" yesterday where a hundred "conservative" activists announced a wacky new plan to set up a "shadow government" and "dissolve the United States" if President Obama doesn't resign by November 29.
Sure guys, let us know how that works out for you. The article is so deliciously bizarre that it is hard to excerpt, so I suggest you click over to read the whole thing, but I couldn't resist these tidbits:
Nearly all speakers invoked their Christian faith to condemn Obama. [...] The new declaration says Obama must "immediately step down from his usurped office and seek refuge in a nation more of his liking." Grievances against Obama include gun-control proposals, immigration reform agitation, a departure from "Biblical morality," alleged help for al-Qaida associates in the Middle East, an allegedly fabricated birth certificate and executive actions that loop around Congress.
Activists seek to dissolve the United States until Obama is forced from office.
"He's kind of like a skunk," one attendee joked. "He's half white, half black, and everything he does stinks."
The event included a George Washington impersonator who read a "revised" Declaration of Independence and asserted that President Obama should be held "personally responsible" for the national debt.
If these people get any farther out, they're going to be in orbit. Which, come to think of it, isn't a bad plan.
As the barricades come down & federal workers head back to the job, we can expect the TEA Party leaders to accept the outcome with their customary grace & dignity. Which is to say dig in their heels, whine, and stubbornly insist that they were "right" all along.
But with tonight’s vote done and the government open once again, I want to return to the theme of my Sunday column, and stress once more the essential absurdity of the specific populist gambit we’ve just witnessed unfold, drag on, and now finally collapse. However you slice and dice the history, the strategery, and the underlying issues, the decision to live with a government shutdown for an extended period of time — inflicting modest-but-real harm on the economy, needlessly disrupting the lives and paychecks of many thousands of hardworking people, and further tarnishing the Republican Party’s already not-exactly-shiny image — in pursuit of obviously, obviously unattainable goals was not a normal political blunder by a normally-functioning political party. It was an irresponsible, dysfunctional and deeply pointless act, carried out by a party that on the evidence of the last few weeks shouldn’t be trusted with the management of a banana stand, let alone the House of Representatives.
Kudos to Mr. Douthat - who's also the film critic for National Review - for succintly explaining the problem and working in a sly reference to the TV show "Arrested Development." Yes, there's "money in the banana stand," but the GOP leaders stood by helplessly and watched the TEA Party extremists burn it down.
Take a victory lap Nancy, Harry, and POTUS. But keep in mind that we'll likely be back in this mess again in just a couple of months. The TEA Party isn't known for learning from its mistakes and Ted Cruz is certain that he can add a few more names to his presidential fundraising list.
Apologies y'all for so little blogging during this month. But when free blogging interferes with paid work & real life obligations, then the blogging has to take a back seat. Things are easing up at the cathouse though. And - as always! - don't wait for an admin or front pager to cover something you think is important. Write about it yourself!
What would it take to resume federal government operations? Nobody really knows, since the House GOP keeps changing their demands. Initially, it was to "defund Obamacare" even though, as head Obamacare-killer Senator Ted Cruz admitted to Senate colleagues, there was no plan on actually how to defund the law. Over the weekend, the House cobbled together a ransom notewish list that included almost the entire GOP platform from 2012.
And some Representatives even wanted to throw in more restrictions on birth control - because they just can't keep their hands out of women's... well, you know.
Most Alabama Representatives have reacted in a sadly predictable manner - blaming Senate Democrats & President Obama for failure to accept whatever crap legislation Boehner the TEA Party can push through the House.
And, although she opposes the new Affordable Care Act developed by the Obama administration, Roby says she has always opposed a shutdown because she has learned most taxpayers in the greater River Region area do not support it.
“I’ve never been for a government shutdown,” Roby said.
Rep. Mo Brooks said that he didn't want a government shutdown - even though he also voted for Boehner's CR and has yet to sign up with King's group of folks searching for compromise.
Speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives, Brooks said disagreements over President Obama's healthcare program should not lead to a government shutdown - which went into effect Tuesday with the beginning of the 2014 fiscal year.
“The House passed a Continuing Resolution to keep the federal government funded and to stop the train wreck that is the President’s unpopular health care law, not once, not twice, but three times and did so with bipartisan support,” said Aderholt. “Unfortunately, the Senate rejected our offers and refused to come to the table to find a solution.”
Spencer Bachus warned that the shutdown would have "severe negative consequences" (even though he too voted with the majority to force a shutdown) and was shocked, shocked that the shutdown forced the closure of national parks & monuments. That in itself is pretty surprising, since Bachus is an alumnus of the GOP shutdown wars of the 1990's. Battles that led to historic mid-term losses for the GOP in 1998.
But maybe he does remember: Rep. Bachus announced that he's jumping off the clown car in 2014. Unlike <a hre="http://www.leftinalabama.com/diary/10640/hd104-jim-barton-another-elected-rat-jumps-off-the-gop-ship">many Alabama Republicans</a> though, he will finish out his term.
Mike Rogers hasn't said much, except that he won't collect a paycheck during the shutdown. It's not like he does a lot to earn it when the government's operating either.
Every Alabama voter should remind these people of this simple concept: compromise begins in YOUR house, not the Senate. If your unwilling to work with the the Democrats who serve with you in the House, how on Earth do you propose to work with the Senate?
Governor Beshear clearly explains both the public health and economic benefits Kentucky after the implementation of Medicaid expansion and health care reform:
PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Studies Institute at the University of Louisville concluded that expanding Medicaid would inject $15.6 billion into Kentucky’s economy over the next eight years, create almost 17,000 new jobs, have an $802.4 million positive budget impact (by transferring certain expenditures from the state to the federal government, among other things), protect hospitals from cuts in indigent care funding and shield businesses from up to $48 million in annual penalties.
And yet Kentucky's governor - a lawyer - is the one saying "we can't afford not to expand Medicaid."
In 2010, Robert Bentley's campaign signs said "Dr. Robert Bentley" and his slogan was "Alabama Needs A Doctor." It sounded great, but now our "Doctor Governor" admits that his Medicaid and exchange decisions have nothing to do with what's best for the state: it's all about politics.
“I have a long-term goal for this. My long term goal is to resist the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and I believe we are going to succeed in that,” Bentley said.
Heck, if only we could exchange our "Doctor" governor for Kentucky's "Lawyer" governor. Alabama would be a much healthier in so many ways.
It's becoming increasingly obvious why the GOP is hellbent on stopping Obamacare. Once it goes into effect, the public will learn two things: that it's going to work and that Republicans have been lying steadily about the bill for years.
Today the White House released an HHS report that summarizes insurance rates (PDF only) for state health insurance exchanges.
In keeping with the numbers from states like California & New York, prices are generally lower than expected. We won't know the exact numbers until the exchanges begin enrollment on October 1, but the preliminary estimates could cut our family's health insurance costs in half. There are a lot of things I'd rather do with that money instead of lining the pockets of BCBS and thanks to President Obama, I may get that chance.
1. Help consumers understand their health coverage Previously, health insurance companies weren't required to explain benefits and the cost of coverage to consumers in an understandable way. Health insurance companies are now required to provide clear, consistent, and comparable INFORMATION about consumers' health insurance benefits and coverage. The Summary of Benefits and Coverage forms for each plan allow consumers to make EASY COMPARISONS of different plans because they're written and presented in the SAME FORMAT and use basic terms. Health insurance companies must also make available a uniform glossary of terms commonly used in health insurance.
2. Refrain from cancelling health coverage Previously, health insurance companies could retroactively cancel consumers' health insurance because of mistakes on their applications. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers can only retroactively cancel consumers' health insurance if their applications are intentionally false or incomplete.
3. Offer certified health plans Previously, states were responsible for determining what standards health insurance companies needed to meet in order to be licensed to sell health plans in that state. Now, all health plans offered through the Marketplace must be CERTIFIED by the MARKETPLACE to meet certain standards for consumer protections. Certified plans, known as qualified health plans (QHPs), are presented uniformly and clearly to make comparisons between plans easy. 4. Offer a guaranteed set of benefits Previously, health insurance companies could sell health plans with variable sets of benefits. Now, all health plans are REQUIRED to include a MINIMUM set of benefits, known as essential health benefits (EHB).
5. Prohibit lifetime limits on coverage Previously, health insurance companies could place limits on how much they would pay for a consumer's health care. Now, health insurance companies can't set a dollar limit on what they spend for a consumer's care during the entire time that consumer is enrolled in a plan, if the services are essential health benefits (EHB). Health insurance companies can still put a lifetime dollar limit on spending for health care services that aren't part of EHB.
So it's no wonder - sadly - that the GOP is going all out to stop this and thereby deny millions of people affordable health care coverage that they desperately need.
Sunday night's debate was grueling, and the bill's sponsor stopped answering questions after she got into trouble denying Democratic amendments. When Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, called for an exemption for women who were victims of rape and incest, Rep. Jody Laubenberg, R-Parker, explained why she felt it was unnecessary.
"In the emergency room they have what's called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out," she said, comparing the procedure to an abortion. "The woman had five months to make that decision, at this point we are looking at a baby that is very far along in its development."
Her apparent confusion about "rape kits" — a phrase generally used to describe the equipment used by medical personnel during forensic examinations to gather physical evidence following allegations of rape or sexual assault — sparked widespread ridicule on social media sites. Laubenberg then simply rejected all proposed changes to her bill without speaking until the end of the debate.
Now there's a solution! When you don't understand the issue in front of you - even though you're the sponsor of the darn bill - just refuse to answer questions.
Mary Sue McClurkin... are you paying attention?
Let's take Julie's apt framing of the issue for McClurkin from February and update it a bit:
We want to help, MarySue Jody Really. Because you are sitting down in Montgomery Austin writing law. You are sitting down in Montgomery Austin meddling in the physician-patient relationship. You are meddling in things about which you have no knowledge whatsoever, and that means you are a danger to society.
Fortunately, voters also have a way to get things "cleaned out:" elections.
“We must compete for every single vote: the 47 percent and the 53 percent and any other combination of numbers that adds up to 100 percent,” he said, notably invoking comments 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney made at a closed door fundraiser about a bloc of voters who would not consider GOP candidates. [...] Republicans “must reject the notion that demography is destiny, the pathetic and simplistic notion that skin pigmentation dictates voter behavior. We must treat all people as individuals rather than as members of special interest groups,” he said.
It's a great headline to a bit of a fawning article overall that includes laugh-out-loud lines like this:
The Louisianan’s remarks further positioned himself as a forward-looking voice among the Republicans thought to have their eye on a White House bid in 2016.
Really? I guess that works if you define "forward-looking" as pushing a plan to kick old people & the poor out of hospice care - and then changing the plan after it got too much criticism. And also if you define "forward-looking" as proposing to eliminate corporate and individual state income taxes and further burden the poor & middle class by raising what is already the nation's 3rd highest highest sales tax rate. That's a move the Tax Policy Center reports"would dramatically shift more of the burden of Louisiana’s taxes onto lower-income individuals."
But hey, at least Jindal's not suggesting jailing raped women who have abortions because they "tampered with evidence" in a criminal trial (PDF link to the Arizona New Mexico bill).
What happens when a Democratic Congressman-turned-Republican-turned-pariah decides to rehabilitate himself? He starts sucking up to the folks who were dumb enough to support him in the first place. That's right campers, Parker Griffith has embarked on a Democratic rehab tour using former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman as his prop.
Former Alabama Congressman Parker Griffith, right, described Siegelman's seven-year sentence as a "political assassination" in a remarkable interview by Lila Garrett on KPFK. Garrett hosts a Los Angeles-based radio show. The interview can be heard nationwide in the second of the show's three segments.
Good luck with that. What's remarkable is that Griffith thinks anyone would believe he has any shred of credibility left. If he told me the sky is blue, I'd have to walk outside & look up before I believed it.
As so often happens when Senator Beason opens his mouth, he had no idea what he was talking about. As Bloomberg reports:
Republican state Senator Scott Beason, a sponsor, said at a news conference last year that the restrictions on undocumented workers would “put thousands of native Alabamians back in the work force.”
Instead, it caused a labor shortage that resulted in the importation of hundreds of legal African and Haitian refugees, and Puerto Ricans, according to interviews with workers, advocacy organizations and businesses. Most were recruited by the poultry industry, in a segment of the economy that has been a heavy employer of undocumented workers, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, a Washington research group. [...] Wayne Farms found Eritreans, displaced by war and conflict, and other Africans through East Coast Labor Solutions LLC, a Fairlea, West Virginia-based labor broker. East Coast has about 200 workers in Alabama, owner Ray Wiley said in an interview.
Most of these worker have landed in Albertville and I, for one, certainly hope that some of the African workers stay to open restaurants because Eritrean food is awesome!
But this article should raise a BIG red flag: these workers are being provided by "labor brokers" and the last time those guys were in the news, they were employing hapless "guest workers" in near sweatshop conditions in Huntsville at the Cinram DVD facility.
The workers are employed by Ambassador staffing agency. Ambassador distributed workers, upon arrival, among 20 local landlords. Circumstances varied greatly, but some workers reported paying as much as $300 per person per month to share a small, furnished apartment with three or more roommates.
In one case in November, The Times found four Jamaican women who paid a combined $1,200 a month for an apartment with busted plumbing and no heat that had rented for $450.
In February, the Fair Housing Center of Northern Alabama, a nonprofit agency based in Birmingham, and the NAACP began questioning housing for foreign workers in Huntsville.
Landlords "were charging some of the people $300 per bed," in "roach-infested" apartments, Jerry Burnet, chair of the state housing committee for the NAACP, told The Times last month. "They've got a little small bed, like you have in a barracks, and they were putting three in each room."
Wormsby said HUD opened the formal investigation after receiving the complaints gathered by the NAACP and the Fair Housing Center.
Remember though... compared to Gov. Mitt Romney's little paen to Chinese slave labor working conditions, Cinram was a real "worker's paradise." From his now-famous Q&A to wealthy supporters last Spring:
And they work in these huge factories, they made various uh, small appliances. And uh, as we were walking through this facility, seeing them work, the number of hours they worked per day, the pittance they earned, living in dormitories with uh, with little bathrooms at the end of maybe 10, 10 room, rooms. And the rooms they have 12 girls per room.
These types of working conditions are a feature, not a bug in the Republican plan for working Americans.
So I'd suggest that we give Senator Beason a nice little Bronx cheer for yet another of his "unintended consequences" to the immigration bill. He's managed to exchange one set of low wage workers who have little or no leverage or ability to demand fair wages & safe working conditions with another set. And yet... maybe it wasn't "unintended" after all!
On top of low wages, no benefits, and no legal right to unionize, these workers face the constant threat of deportation if they speak out against their employer. It is within this context that we must understand the crash that six months ago killed 11 farm workers, including 9 migrants from Peru, near the Canadian town of Waterloo. Since the accident there has been no government investigation into the transportation and living conditions of migrant farm workers in Canada and fleeting media coverage. Like South Africa, migrant farm workers in Canada live in isolated rural areas, often housed directly on the farms, where they often experience severe discrimination and racism.
Don't get me wrong: I'm thrilled that some of these refugees have a chance at building a better life in a stable community with a decent job. But we need to be vigilant and make sure that's actually the case. Because past history has shown us clearly that these desperate people are willing to accept low wages, terrible working conditions, and are ripe for exploitation.
Anybody want to explain how this is an improvement?
Pity the baby elephants.... A few weeks ago, the New York Times wrote about the "young Republicans who blur the line on social issues." These idealistic young people think they can downplay such hot button issues as abortion and marriage equality and attract younger voters to the GOP based on economic issues.
Zoey Kotzambasis, vice president of the College Republicans at the University of Arizona, considers herself a conservative. But she supports both same-sex marriage and abortion rights. Those are not just her opinions.
“A lot of the College Republicans I know share the same liberal-to-moderate social views,” she added. “And I think that’s changing the face of the party.”
Really? Because the "face of the party" hasn't changed much with the recent decision of the platform committee to include support for a constitutional amendment that bans abortions - including those for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell defended the platform plank with this rather bizarre statement:
"The specifics, of course, are largely left up to the states."
Um... NO. The specifics are NOT left up to the states if we have a constitutional amendment that bans all abortions. In spite of the Dixiecrat determination to thwart federal law whenever possible, a #$%$ constitutional amendment over-rides state law.
This wasn't the only vote the platform committee took on anti-choice planks & those votes didn't pass without comment. A young Alabama delegate spoke out. Jackie Curtiss, a 22-yr old Monetvallo student who says she's staunchly anti-abortion, tried to bring some sanity into the platform discussion:
Curtiss made waves in the committee when she objected to an amendment to the platform banning medication "that terminates human life after conception." The amendment was aimed at RU-486 and other so-called “abortion pills," but Curtiss warned that it could potentially include the “morning after pill.” With a national controversy swirling around Rep. Todd Akin's skepticism that rape could cause pregnancy, Curtiss — the only person to even refer to the embattled congressman — said the platform needed to make it clear that the party is welcoming to women. [...] Nevertheless, the amendment passed and found its way into the party’s 2012 manifesto.
The same was true for abstinence-only education. Curtiss was joined by a handful of delegates in opposing the language which was being inserted into the platform. She also said she backs an exception to the abortion ban for rape victims, but did not offer an amendment on that pont.
“I’m from Alabama — we have abstinence-only education, we also have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country,” Curtiss said. “While I support abstinence and I think it’s something to teach our kids, I also am realistic and understand a majority of our kids are not waiting until marriage to have sex.”
While I think it's awesome that the national GOP put a 22 year old young woman on their platform committee, I fear that she's in for quite a season of disappointment.
Even though Rep. Paul Ryan called on Missouri candidate Todd "legitimate rapes" Akin to withdraw, it wasn't due to philosophical differences. Rather it's a cold political calculation that it's electoral suicide for the GOP to explain to mainstream voters what their real social agenda is.
Ryan voted with Akin in Congress 93% of the time and was a co-sponsor of HR 3, the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Bill" that allowed women access to abortion if they'd been the victims of "forcible rape." Interesting term, that. Kind of like the "legitimate rape" language that Akin used just this weekend. The issue that GOP strategists have with Akin & company isn't their extreme views on the role of women & their magic ladyparts... it's that they're sharing those views with voters before the election.
There may be a "generational divide" looming in the GOP, but as long as the party power structure is dominated by mysogistic, xenophobic no-nothings who scoff at science and think Adam & Eve rode dinsosaurs, those young folks won't get very far. The current GOP is desperately treading water in the face of a coming demographic tsunami that's about to drown the entire Republican Party.
The mainstream GOP should have paid attention to the old story about having a tiger by the tail. The cautionary fable explains that you'll have a powerful weapon, but can't control it. Soon, it will turn you you. This story is certainly playing out across the country - most recently in the Texas Senate primary on Tuesday.
The infusion of new conservative blood could alter the complexion of the Senate, increasing the sorts of conflicts between moderates and far-right Republicans disinclined toward compromise that have characterized the House for two years. From Indiana, where Richard E. Mourdock recently toppled the veteran Republican Senator Richard G. Lugar, to Wisconsin — where two Tea Party candidates are slowly unmooring the Republican front-runner, former Gov. Tommy Thompson — to Nebraska, where Deb Fischer surprisingly beat out a more established Republican candidate...
In Utah, Orrin Hatch was forced into a primary battle when he failed to get enough votes at the state convention to win the nomination without a primary.
The dwindling number of GOP moderates is watching in dismay as this plays out. Some are complaining publicly about feeling bullied by leadership to go along with the demands of the far right. Ohio Rep. Steve LaTourette abruptly decided to retire, citing the need to "hand over your wallet and your voting card" to party extremes. A fellow GOP Congressman, New York Rep. Richard Hanna, is open about his frustration, telling his local paper in Syracuse:
“I have to say that I’m frustrated by how much we — I mean the Republican Party — are willing to give deferential treatment to our extremes in this moment in history,” he told The Post-Standard editorial board.
Hanna is a local businessman who won in 2010 and survived a TEA Party primary challenge this year, really seems shocked by the level of unhinged vitriol spewed on a daily basis by his GOP colleagues:
While he blamed the dysfunction on both sides, he said he feels more bitterness coming from the Republican caucus than from the Democrats.
“I would say that the friends I have in the Democratic Party I find ... much more congenial — a little less anger,” he said.
Right wing GOP pressure isn't just at the national level. Moderate Republicans should certainly feel justified if they're feeling a bit paranoid these days. Conservatives are happy to discuss their efforts to cull moderate Republicans, whom they consider to be weaker, less reliable members of the elephant herd:
Frustrated by their inability to achieve some policy goals, conservatives in Republican states are turning against moderate members of their own party, trying to drive them out of state legislatures to clear the way for reshaping government across a wide swath of mid-America controlled by the GOP. [...] The push is most intense in Kansas, where conservatives are attempting to replace a dozen moderate Republican senators who bucked new Gov. Sam Brownback's move to slash state income taxes.
While it's entertaining to watch the GOP slowly self-destruct and race happily down a rutted path that leads inexorably towards the cliff of political irrelevance, it is bad for the country in the short term.
Far too many people just don't believe how extremist these guys are. It's not just a clown car, people! It's an armored clown bus filled with unstable extremists hostile to civil liberties, Social Security, public education, compromise of any sort, and civil society. They're the clowns of your nightmares: they're in charge in many statehouses and running the US House of Representatives.
They'll do incalculable damage to the country - and right here in Alabama - before the voting public wakes up and turns them out of office.
Now that Gov. Romney's home from his "European Vacation," it's time to gaze at some of the downticket Republicans. They're a zany bunch who defend dogfighting, wag on about Kenyan birth announcements, and warn about martial law declarations. How long before all three conspiracy theories merge into one?
Iowa Representative Steve King has been a busy guy the past week on several fronts. First up - animal torture. Rep. King explained in a town meeting that dog fighting isn't a problem because we allow humans to fight. Why, what's wrong with our priorities?
When the legislation that passed in the farm bill that says that it’s a federal crime to watch animals fight or to induce someone else to watch an animal fight but it’s not a federal crime to induce somebody to watch people fighting, there’s something wrong with the priorities of people that think like that.
Um... I'm pretty sure there's some federal statute that would prohibit attending a fight intending to watch humans fight to the death. And boxers train voluntarily for their careers - and bear the scars.
We went down into the Library of Congress and we found a microfiche there of two newspapers in Hawaii each of which had published the birth of Barack Obama. It would have been awfully hard to fraudulently file the birth notice of Barack Obama being born in Hawaii and get that into our public libraries and that microfiche they keep of all the newspapers published. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some other explanations on how they might’ve announced that by telegram from Kenya.
They might also be from the future. Here's hoping Rep. King investigates that next.
But let's save the best for last. A Tennessee state legislator has a pet theory involving Homeland Security, martial law, and the November election....
Rep. Kelly Keisling (R-Byrdstown) sent an email from his state email account to constituents containing a rumor that Obama and the Department of Homeland Security are planning a series of events that could lead to the imposition of "martial law" and delay the election. Among the events hypothesized in the email is a staged assassination attempt on the president that would lead to civil unrest in urban areas and martial law.
Keisling appears to have forwarded a more widely circulated email from Joe Angione, a Florida-based conservative blogger. Angione prefaces the rumor by saying it has not been confirmed but likewise notes it has not been denied. Angione also writes that people need to work to prevent the rumor from becoming reality.
What does Rep. Keisling have to say for himself? uh oh...
Keisling has not returned messages left at his Byrdstown insurance office, and there was no answer at his home.
We're still 3 months from the election. Hang on, campers... it will only get worse!
The Talmud says that if we thank God for the good things in our lives, we must also give thanks for the bad. So we know that the GOP is determined to blame President Obama for everything (could be he even controls the weather!) bad. Will he also get credit for falling gas prices?
Because truly, up or down, POTUS has little control over prices.
But PolitiFact has said repeatedly that Obama is not to blame. Gas prices are largely affected by supply-and-demand pressures over which a president has little control.
We addressed this subject in February 2012 when we looked at a claim by U.S. Senate candidate George Allen, a Republican, that the average cost of filling a gas tank had increased by $30 under Obama. We rated that claim Mostly True, saying Allen had his number right but wrongly suggested the president shoulders the blame.
There's more... check out the link for the details.
I took the photo here yesterday on Winchester Road in Madison County after passing numerous stations advertising regular unleaded prices below $3.
Since the TEA Party GOP would like us to believe that President Obama is the 21st Century version of "Oz the Great & Powerful," I couldn't help but wonder... will they give him credit for this positive development?
After a raucous meeting of the Baldwin County Commission where the burning topic of the hour was boathouses (seriously), a University of Alabama constitutional law professor said it best: "There are two lessons to be learned here: public policy shouldn’t be made by conspiracy theorists and some folks need to stay off the Internet."
Baldwin County Commissioner Frank Burt was the head unicorn hunter at a meeting held last week and he managed to excoriate the Army Corps of Engineers, the EPA, Alabama Department of Environmental Management, and... the United Nations. I'm sure President Obama's name was tossed about too, but the reporter didn't mention it.
In a political commentary that sometimes seemed like a tent-revival exhortation, Baldwin County Commissioner Frank Burt held forth for more than 20 minutes Tuesday on the evils of a 1992 United Nations initiative known as Agenda 21 that he characterized as a threat to U.S. sovereignty.
"We are all for protecting the environment," Burt said, "but this is something that has seeped in amongst us. I don’t think we need the United Nations to tell us what to do."
He said, "We’ve got the EPA taking over the country. If the Senate approves (Agenda 21), they can come into New York City or wherever a raindrop falls and tell us what to do."
According to Commission Chairman, Bob James, Burt's wild assessment had merit:
"This country used to be easy enough for a caveman to understand," James said, a reference to a Press-Register editorial cartoon depicting James and Burt as cavemen for refusing to grant a school board request for a tax referendum. "People need to wake up and take this country back."
We don't know about cavemen, but it is pretty clear that the problems facing this country - and the particular problems of state and local governments - are way too complex to leave in the hands of the GOP/TEA Party tinfoil hat crowd.
Curious now about the sordid nature of "Agenda 21?" Read about it at the United Nations Web site. Hey, anything that 178 countries agree on must be a conspiracy, right?
What a photo. Hey, all that's missing is a watermelon slice! So I couldn't help thinking.... if the party's hard up for money, maybe they should think outside the teabag expand their product offerings beyond the boring "Vote Republican" bumperstickers.
What about this idea? That old schtick of charging $5k for a photo has been done to death. Instead, they could get more creative - let Gov. Romney (and a few of his closest friends) cut donors hair!
No? Well, there are a lot of other alternatives. GOP & TEA Party rallies have provided numerous ideas. Those folks can really get... ahem... creative with their crayons & markers. The party could cash in on the sort of items are already popular with an influential part of their constituency. You know, those folks on full display in the AL.com comment boards.
Two years of the AL GOP supermajority in the legislature have shown that they aren't restrained by either good taste or basic decency in public discourse or legislation.... so c'mon guys... go for it!
I've even done some of the product research legwork for you. Examples are on the flip. All product photos (except for Hugh McInnish) are actual examples of what the creators & distributors called "humor."
What does it say about the rank & file GOP in Arizona when Gov. Jan Brewer is the voice of reason? There's this - and more - in the last week's round-up of amazing GOP craziness from around the country. If they're not hunting unicorns... they're still on the prowl for President Obama's "real" birth certificate.
The bill was Arizona's far-right-wing response to the continuously debunked conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama is not an American citizen. It required that presidential candidates prove to Arizona election officials that they were born in the United States before their name's allowed on the ballot in the Grand Canyon State -- despite it's already being a federal requirement to land the job.
Sounds ridiculous, we know -- but it gets worse.
The original bill called for a long-form birth certificate to prove a candidate is a natural-born citizen, which was a little too much for some GOP lawmakers. So they made some amendments: if you can't find your birth certificate, and you have a penis, a document describing your lack of foreskin will suffice.
After Facebook co-founder, Eduardo Saverin, renounced his US citizenship to avoid paying US taxes when FB went public, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer introduced a bill that would require these sort of "expats" to prove that they did NOT renounce citizenship "for tax reasons." Grover (No Taxes) Norquist quickly denounced the bill:
Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, said the targeting people that turn in their passports reminded him of regimes that had driven people out of the country, only to confiscate their wealth at the door.
“I think Schumer can probably find the legislation to do this. It existed in Germany in the 1930s and Rhodesia in the ’70s and in South Africa as well,” said Norquist. “He probably just plagiarized it and translated it from the original German.”
That's right: in GOP land, renouncing your US citizenship to avoid paying taxes in patriotic, while asking citizens who have achieved success using the US educational system, taxpayer-financed Internet, and other benefits to pay it forward is... some sort of "Nazi Communist" conspiracy.
In the good news segment... the right wing is in a tizzy over the news that non-white births have overtaken white births in the US. It seems these brown-like babies "won't share our values..."
Roger Schlafly, son of Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly, today mourned on the Eagle Forum Blog a Census Bureau report showing that non-white births have now exceeded white births in the U.S. “It is not a good thing,” Schlafly said, warning that “immigrants do not share American values” and therefore “will not be voting Republican when they start voting in large numbers.” He went on to claim that “NY Times liberals seek to destroy the American family of the 1950s,” saying that immigrants “do not share” American values like working hard and self-sufficiency, and instead “will vote Democrat when the Democrats promise them more food stamps.”
You have to almost admire someone so willing to spew the crazy all out for anyone to see - even if he's a total butthead. And I have to chuckle at the fact that Mr. Schlafly doesn't seem to realize that even all whites in this country "don't share" his particular twisted values.
Demographics are a ticking time bomb for the right wing GOP and I, for one, totally can't wait until it explodes...
Alabama's in the top 10 - but once again it's a negative honor. The state is ranked #4 in the Economic Policy Institute's ranking of low-wage workers by state. The entire study - "The Future of Work" - is worth a read.
Some key points that I think are particularly applicable to Alabama:
In Alabama, wages of 32.5% of workers are at or below the federal poverty level of $22,350 for a family of 4. 41% of workers are at 200% or less.
Some may believe that a preponderance of low-wage workers live in higher-income households (thinking, for instance, of a teenager with a menial job living with parents, or an adult with a low-wage job living with a higher-earning spouse). In fact, in 2011, only 31.5 percent of poverty-wage workers lived in households with a family income greater than $50,000, and 31.0 percent lived in households with less than $25,000 in family income.
Low-wage workers are concentrated in 3 main occupations: food service, farming, & personal care services.
More job training & education may not be the answer. Right now, 26% of jobs don't require a high school diploma. 5.6% require an Associate's degree while 15.8% require a Bachelor's degree. Those numbers aren't expected to budge hardly at all between now and 2020. But don't worry, the GOP is working hard to make college unaffordable for most people anyway....
...in 2020, jobs will actually not require a significantly greater level of education or training than workers currently have. This is an important finding; far too many economic pundits take for granted that the economy of the future will demand far greater skills and credentials.
This is undoubtedly the most startling statistic because most people view a college degree as a ticket to the good life. And it used to be, but that dynamic has been upended during the past 30 years. An April 2012 study (PDF) from the Center for Economic & Policy Research found that the number of older, better educated people who work in low-wage jobs has increased markedly since 1979:
Characteristics of Low-wage Workers, 1979 and 2011 -- percent of low-wage workforce)
Less Than High School 39.5 19.8 High School 35.4 37.0 Some college 19.5 33.3 College+ 5.7 9.9
At a time when more people than ever need a safety net, both the state and national GOP leadership seems intent on shredding it even more. It's a great way to distract the population: have us fighting each other for scraps while the Republicans bow to Grover Norquist & reward their real constituency (corporations & the super-rich) with even more tax breaks & tax cuts.
But truly, the only thing really being cut & broken is the American Middle Class.
President Obama is so "anti-business" that America's biggest corporations posted record profits totaling $824 billion last year. Isn't it heartwarming to see these brave corporations managing to barely hang on & survive the assaults of what they call "the most anti-business president?"
The Fortune 500 generated a total of $824.5 billion in earnings last year, up 16.4% over 2010. That beats the previous record of $785 billion, set in 2006 during a roaring economy. [...] Companies are also garnering exceptional returns on their capital. The 500 achieved a return-on-equity of 14.3%, far above the historical norm of 12%.
Looking deeper into the list, several macro trends emerge. High prices at the pump translated into great results for energy companies like Exxon Mobil, which topped the Fortune 500 with $453 billion in revenues.
Cullman County Republican Party Chair Ken Brown is blaming Democratic crossover voting for several upset victories in primary runoff elections. Of eight candidates in runoff races, only one held on to her first place finish and won the runoff. In the seven other races, the second place finishers in the primary surged ahead to win the runoff.
One race was a particular surprise. A school board candidate almost won the primary outright with 49% of the vote. But that tiny deficit forced Gene Sullins into a runoff and he won by 164 votes.
Turnout was abysmally low in the runoff - 18% compared to the 42% who voted in the primary. So it seems odd that Brown blames Democrats for the results:
According to Cullman County Republican party chair Ken Brown, Democratic crossover voting played a significant role in switching the order in which his most of his party’s candidates finished Tuesday.
“Unfortunately, tonight’s results do reflect the ability of local Democrats to crossover vote in our Republican election process and affect the outcome in some races,” said Brown.
“We hope to remedy this before the next primary election in 2014, by having Alabama join more than 20 other states in moving to voter registration by party, and closed primaries. Then, Democrats will be free to pick their own nominees — and we will be free to choose ours without interference.”
Instead of blaming crossover Democrats, perhaps Brown should wonder about the effectiveness of candidates who can't motivate their voters to head to the polls.
I know there are at least a couple of LIA folks who are familiar with Cullman County politics.... would love to have your comments!
And everyone else... what do you think about party registration and closed primaries?
Who better to headline a fundraiser for the Alabama GOP? Rep. Allen West: a man who combines the charm of Joseph McCarthy with the veracity of Sarah Palin. Now, most people wouldn't even like to be in the same room with West, but for the Alabama GOP, it's a match made in money heaven.
Just in case we haven't heard enough about communists, censorship, abortion, or Nazis lately, the Alabama Republican Party is bringing in Rep. Allen West of Florida for its June "Summer Dinner" fundraiser.
Let's learn a bit more about Rep. West....
Politifact Florida probably had to add staff to keep up after Rep. West got elected. The 14 statements from West that Politifact has checked fall out like this:
True - 1
Mostly True - 1
Half True - 2
Mostly False - 2
False - 5
Pants on Fire - 3
He's not just a serial liar; West is also a whiner with delusions of grandeur who continually blames the media for taking his remarks "out of context." Really?
Pushed to apologize for his assertion that Nazi propaganda chief, Joseph Goebbles, would be "proud of the Democrat (sic) Party," West blamed the media: "Once again, you guys will take whatever I say and you will spin it to try to demonize me or demagogue me." boo hoo....
After suggesting that President Obama and Democrats should "get the hell out of the United States of America," West again whined that what he said was not what he meant.
After asserting the presence of up to 80 Communists serving in Congress under the guise of Democrats, West sparred with CNN, and produced his "list:" the members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. When pressed to say yes or no about individual members, West responded: “You can call it whatever you want,” West replied. --- um... yes, but you used the word "Communist," Congressman....
Hang on, campers! We aren't done with the crazy... Let's look at West and women:
Remember this bizarre exchange with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (who actually represents West in Congress because he doesn't live in his own district)?
Yesterday, TEA Party representative Allen West boiled over and called fellow Florida representative, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz "a coward" and "the most despicable member of the House" in an email broadside more reminiscent of a Glenn Beck rant than a serious policy discussion.
Then there's this speech to conservative women, he blamed "liberal women" for the deficit and accused them of "neutering men" and trying to make them "subservient." He then urged the gathered women to be more like the "women of Sparta" who reared strong sons for the army.
He told voters at a town meeting that "If you support Medicare, you can kiss the United States goodbye."
Just this week, West defended fellow right wing lunatic, Ted Nugent, who was, West noted "just expressing his opinion" on President Obama and decried the tendency to "sensationalize" it.