Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Hypocrisy of Conservative Outrage

Wednesday, Sept. 17 (2012) was Talk Like a Pirate Day, and the Obama campaign sent out a tweet with an old photo of President Obama talking to (you guessed it) a pirate, taken in 2009 during the Correspondent's dinner.  But...three days later the Drudge Report posted a copy of this photo claiming that Mr. Obama was meeting with this pirate on the 17th instead of Israeli President Netanyahu. Here's the picture.

Well Fox News did their usual crack job of fact checking and decided this must be legitimate news, and Fox and Friends used this picture to lambast Mr. Obama for not having time for issues of real national importance.  That made a lot of Fox viewers upset and the blogosphere and Facebook lit up, with the following picture (among many many others) showing up on the thoroughly patriotic website
We all have experienced the utter lack of depth that Fox News places in reporting facts, and that like good lemmings jumping off the cliff, the angry white men of the Republican world just drool for chances to echo what Fox and its spin-offs like to say.  That isn't news.  But what we can't stand is that at the same time that this was going on, the Republican led House of Representatives decided to go on a two month vacation, rather than legislating.

What issues are so important, you might ask?  They include the Violence Against Women Act, Sequestration, the American Jobs Act, the Veterans Jobs Corp act, and the current Farm Bill.  In other words, just about everyone in this country is being ignored so Eric Cantor and his cronies can campaign to keep their jobs rather than doing their jobs.  And, listen to the cricket sounds...that is the noise of millions of Republicans who are up in arms about their lawmakers actually doing nothing.

So there you have it folks, The Great Republican Hypocrisy No. 105.  Republicans will jump on any Democrat for fictitiously not working for 5 minutes, but applaud their own for not working for 60 days.

We know that only about 7 of you actually read this far, but if you did, please share with your friends.  We need to make sure voters who are on the fence get informed.  Two people have already told us that they changed their minds on who to vote for in November through shares of our posts.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Republican Obstructionism

A quick look at statistics from the Senate show the clear trend that the Republican minority since 2008 has spent much more time obstructing government than promoting it.

For example,  Republicans have forced 262 cloture motions (fillibuster and other procedural obstacles).  That is 27% of the total number made since 1917, and almost 100% more than the yearly average from the previous 20 years.  From 1992-2008, the Senate passed 9218 measures, averaging 542 per year.  Since Mr. Obama took office, that average was 483, down a full 20%.  During the same periods, the Senate passed an average of 231 public laws per year before the Obama presidency, and an average of 158 since, down 32%!   Republicans have ground the Senate's governing productivity to a new low.

But many Conservatives counter that the House, which has retained control of the majority, has been working hard to help the American people, and it is the fault of the Democratic-led Senate for rejecting such bills.  Consider then the following 372 bills that House Republicans blocked between 2009-10.   It is hard to look this over and not conclude that they aren't working for working America, either.

1) H.R. 12, Paycheck Fairness Act
2) H.R. 20, Melanie Blocker Stokes Mom’s Opportunity to Access Health, Education, Research, and Support for Postpartum Depression Act
3) H.R. 22, U.S. Postal Service Financial Relief Act
4) H.R. 23, Belated Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II Act
5) H.R. 24, Redesignating Department of Navy as Department of Navy and Marine Corps
6) H.R. 31, Lumbee Recognition Act
7) H.R. 35, Presidential Records Act Amendments
8) H.R. 36, Presidential Library Donation Reform Act
9) H.R. 44, Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act
10) H.R. 46, Family Self Sufficiency Act
11) H.R. 80, Captive Primate Safety Act
12) H.R. 81, Shark Conservation Act
13) H.R. 86, Regarding California Coastal National Monument
14) H.R. 118, Regarding Morristown National Historical Park
15) H.R. 129, Conveying Certain National Forest System Lands in Los Padres National Forest in California
16) H.R. 151, Daniel Webster Congressional Clerkship Act
17) H.R. 174, Establishing a national cemetery for veterans in the southern Colorado region
18) H.R. 310, HALE Scouts Act
19) H.R. 320, CJ’s Home Protection Act
20) H.R. 325, Avra/Black Wash Reclamation and Riparian Restoration Project
21) H.R. 326, Cocopah Lands Act
22) H.R. 347, Congressional Gold Medal for 100th Infantry Battalion in World War II
23) H.R. 388, Crane Conservation Act
24) H.R. 403, Homes for Heroes Act
25) H.R. 409, Conveying Land to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway
26) H.R. 411, Great Cats and Rare Canids Act
27) H.R. 445, Heavy Duty Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development and Demonstration Act
28) H.R. 448, Elder Abuse Victims Act
29) H.R. 466, Wounded Veteran Job Security Act
30) H.R. 469, Produced Water Utilization Act
31) H.R. 479, Wakefield Act
32) H.R. 509, Marine Turtle Conservation Reauthorization Act
33) H.R. 515, Radioactive Import Deterrence Act
34) H.R. 548, Civil War Battlefield Preservation Act
35) H.R. 549, National Bombing Prevention Act
36) H.R. 553, Reducing Over-Classification Act
37) H.R. 554, National Nanotechnology Initiative Amendments Act
38) H.R. 556, Southern Sea Otter Recovery and Research Act
39) H.R. 559, Fair, Accurate, Secure and Timely Redress Act
40) H.R. 577, Vision Care for Kids Act
41) H.R. 601, Box Elder Utah Land Conveyance Act
42) H.R. 603, Utah National Guard Readiness Act
43) H.R. 626, Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act
44) H.R. 628, Encouraging enhancement of expertise in patent cases among district judges
45) H.R. 631, Water Use Efficiency and Conservation Research Act
46) H.R. 632, Encouraging Silver Alert Plans
47) H.R. 637, South Orange County Recycled Water Enhancement Act
48) H.R. 685, United States Civil Rights Trail Special Resource Study Act
49) H.R. 729, Phylicia’s Law
50) H.R. 738, Death in Custody Reporting Act
51) H.R. 748, CAMPUS Safety Act
52) H.R. 749, Technical Amendment to Federal Election Campaign Act
53) H.R. 756, National Pain Care Policy Act
54) H.R. 762, Validating a final patent number
55) H.R. 780, Student Internet Safety Act
56) H.R. 842, Naming R. Jess Brown U.S. Courthouse in Jackson, Mississippi
57) H.R. 844, Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Amendments
58) H.R. 860, Coral Reef Conservation Act Reauthorization
59) H.R. 869, Naming Scott Reed Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Lexington, Kentucky
60) H.R. 885, Improved Financial and Commodity Markets Oversight and Accountability Act
61) H.R. 887, Naming James A. Leach U.S. Courthouse in Davenport, Iowa
62) H.R. 905, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve Boundary Modification Act
63) H.R. 908, Missing Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Alert Program Reauthorization
64) H.R. 911, Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act
65) H.R. 934, Conveying certain submerged lands to Commonwealth of Mariana Islands
66) H.R. 940, Conveyance of certain National Forest System land in Louisiana
67) H.R. 946, Plain Writing Act
68) H.R. 957, Green Energy Education Act
69) H.R. 959, Officer Daniel Faulkner Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act
70) H.R. 965, Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network Continuing Authorization Act
71) H.R. 985, Free Flow of Information Act
72) H.R. 1002, Pisgah National Forest Boundary Adjustment Act
73) H.R. 1017, Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act
74) H.R. 1018, Restore Our American Mustangs Act
75) H.R. 1029, Alien Smuggling and Terrorism Prevention Act
76) H.R. 1043, Deafy Glade Land Exchange Act
77) H.R. 1044, Port Chicago Naval Magazine
78) H.R. 1053, Chesapeake Bay Accountability and Recovery Act
79) H.R. 1061, Hoh Indian Tribe Safe Homelands Act
80) H.R. 1065, White Mountain Apache Tribe Water Rights Quantification Act
81) H.R. 1080, Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act
82) H.R. 1084, CALM Act
83) H.R. 1088, Mandatory Veteran Specialist Training Act
84) H.R. 1089, Veterans Employment Rights Realignment Act
85) H.R. 1107, Relating to certain public contracts
86) H.R. 1110, PHONE Act
87) H.R. 1120, Central Texas Water Recycling Act
88) H.R. 1129, Authorizing iron working training program for Native Americans
89) H.R. 1139, COPS Improvements Act
90) H.R. 1145, National Water Research and Development Initiative Act
91) H.R. 1147, Local Community Radio Act
92) H.R. 1168, Veterans Retraining Act
93) H.R. 1170, New Assistive Technologies for Specially Adapted Housing
94) H.R. 1171, Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Reauthorization
95) H.R. 1172, Requiring List on VA Website of Organizations Providing Scholarships for Veterans
96) H.R. 1177, 5-Star Generals Commemorative Coin Act
97) H.R. 1178, Requiring a study on the use of Civil Air Patrol personnel and resources to support homeland security missions
98) H.R. 1216, Naming Lance Corporal Matthew P. Pathenos Post Office in Chesterfield, Missouri
99) H.R. 1217, Naming Specialist Peter J. Navarro Post Office in Ballwin, Missouri
100) H.R. 1218, Naming Lance Corporal Drew W. Weaver Post Office in Saint Charles, Missouri
101) H.R. 1219, Lake Hodges Surface Water Improvement and Reclamation Act
102) H.R. 1246, Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act
103) H.R. 1253, Health Insurance Restrictions and Limitations Clarification Act
104) H.R. 1258, Truth in Caller ID Act
105) H.R. 1259, Dextromethorphan Distribution Act
106) H.R. 1262, Water Quality Investment Act
107) H.R. 1280, Modifying A Land Grant Issued by the Secretary of the Interior
108) H.R. 1287, Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center Partnership Act
109) H.R. 1293, Disabled Veterans Home Improvement and Structural Alteration Grant Increase Act
110) H.R. 1319, Informed P2P User Act
111) H.R. 1323, Reducing Information Control Designations Act
112) H.R. 1333, Regarding shipment of certain explosive materials to federally recognized Indian tribes
113) H.R. 1345, District of Columbia Hatch Act Reform
114) H.R. 1376, Waco Mammoth National Monument Establishment Act
115) H.R. 1380, Josh Miller HEARTS Act
116) H.R. 1385, Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act
117) H.R. 1387, Electronic Message Preservation Act
118) H.R. 1393, Lower Rio Grande Valley Water Resources Conservation and Improvement Act
119) H.R. 1404, Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement (FLAME) Act
120) H.R. 1429, Stop AIDS in Prison Act
121) H.R. 1469, Child Protection Improvements Act
122) H.R. 1471, Designating Jimmy Carter National Historic Site as a National Historical Park
123) H.R. 1511, Torture Victims Relief Reauthorization Act
124) H.R. 1514, Juvenile Accountability Block Grants Program Reauthorization Act
125) H.R. 1554, Fountainhead Property Land Transfer Act
126) H.R. 1580, Electronic Waste Research and Development Act
127) H.R. 1585, FIT Kids Act
128) H.R. 1593, Adding a segment of Illabot Creek in State of Washington to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System
129) H.R. 1612, Public Lands Service Corps Act
130) H.R. 1617, Department of Homeland Security Component Privacy Officer Act
131) H.R. 1622, R&D on Natural Gas Vehicles
132) H.R. 1641, Cascadia Marine Trail Study Act
133) H.R. 1662, Anthony DeJuan Boatwright Act
134) H.R. 1672, Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative Reauthorization
135) H.R. 1674, National Consumer Cooperative Bank Act Amendments
136) H.R. 1675, Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act
137) H.R. 1679, House Reservists Pay Adjustment Act
138) H.R. 1694, Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Protection Act
139) H.R. 1700, National Women’s History Museum Act
140) H.R. 1709, STEM (Science-Technology-Engineeri... Education Coordination Act
141) H.R. 1722, Telework Improvements Act
142) H.R. 1727, Managing Arson Through Criminal History (MATCH) Act
143) H.R. 1736, International Science and Technology Cooperation Act
144) H.R. 1741, Witness Security and Protection Grant Program Act
145) H.R. 1746, Pre-Disaster Mitigation Act
146) H.R. 1769, Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions Act
147) H.R. 1771, Chesapeake Bay Science, Education and Ecosystem Enhancement Act
148) H.R. 1796, Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act
149) H.R. 1803, Veterans Business Center Act
150) H.R. 1807, Educating Entrepreneurs through Today’s Technology Act
151) H.R. 1824, Best Buddies Empowerment for People with Intellectual Disabilities Act
152) H.R. 1834, Native American Business Development Enhancement Act
153) H.R. 1838, Amending Small Business Act to modify certain provisions regarding women’s business centers
154) H.R. 1839, To amend the Small Business Act to improve SCORE
155) H.R. 1842, Expanding Entrepreneurship Act
156) H.R. 1845, Small Business Development Centers Modernization Act
157) H.R. 1849, World War I Memorial and Centennial Act
158) H.R. 1854, Modifying an environmental infrastructure project for Big Bear Lake, California
159) H.R. 1855, SECTORS Act
160) H.R. 1858, Providing for a boundary adjustment for Roosevelt National Forest in Colorado
161) H.R. 1875, End the Trade Deficit Act
162) H.R. 1879, National Guard Employment Protection Act
163) H.R. 1933, A Child Is Missing Alert and Recovery Center Act
164) H.R. 1945, Tule River Tribe Water Development Act
165) H.R. 2008, Bonneville Unit Clean Hydropower Facilitation Act
166) H.R. 2020, Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Act
167) H.R. 2034, Rural Homeowners Protection Act
168) H.R. 2062, Migratory Bird Treaty Act Penalty and Enforcement Act
169) H.R. 2092, Kingman and Heritage Islands Act
170) H.R. 2093, Clean Coastal Environment and Public Health Act
171) H.R. 2134, Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission Act
172) H.R. 2136, Honorable Stephanie Tubbs Jones College Fire Prevention Act
173) H.R. 2142, Government Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Performance Improvement Act
174) H.R. 2173, Naming Carl B. Smith Post Office in Island Falls, Maine
175) H.R. 2174, Naming Clyde Hichborn Post Office in Howland, Maine
176) H.R. 2187, 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act
177) H.R. 2188, Joint Ventures for Bird Habitat Conservation Act
178) H.R. 2200, Transportation Security Administration Authorization Act
179) H.R. 2221, Data Accountability and Trust Act
180) H.R. 2247, Congressional Review Act Improvement Act
181) H.R. 2265, Magna Water District Water Reuse and Groundwater Recharge Act
182) H.R. 2278, Directing President to submit a report to Congress a report on anti-American incitement to violence in the Middle East
183) H.R. 2288, Endangered Fish Recovery Programs Improvement Act
184) H.R. 2314, Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act
185) H.R. 2330, Camp Hale Study Act
186) H.R. 2340, Salmon Lake Land Selection Resolution Act
187) H.R. 2352, Job Creation Through Entrepreneurship Act
188) H.R. 2377, Establishing an awards program recognizing excellence exhibited by public school system employees
189) H.R. 2410, Foreign Relations Authorization Act, FY 2010 and FY 2011
190) H.R. 2421, Mother’s Day Centennial Commemorative Coin Act
191) H.R. 2423, Naming George P. Kazen Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Laredo, Texas
192) H.R. 2430, Directing the Secretary of Interior to continue stocking fish in certain lakes
193) H.R. 2442, Bay Area Regional Water Recycling Program Expansion
194) H.R. 2454, American Clean Energy and Security Act
195) H.R. 2476, Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act
196) H.R. 2480, Truth in Fur Labeling Act
197) H.R. 2489, National Land Remote Sensing Outreach Act
198) H.R. 2499, Puerto Rico Democracy Act
199) H.R. 2510, Absentee Ballot Track, Receive and Confirm Act
200) H.R. 2522, Regarding Calleguas Municipal Water District Recycling Project
201) H.R. 2529, Neighborhood Preservation Act
202) H.R. 2546, Blue Star/Gold Star Flag Act
203) H.R. 2554, National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers Reform Act
204) H.R. 2571, Nonadmitted and Reinsurance Reform Act
205) H.R. 2611, Authorizing the Securing the Cities Initiative of the Department of Homeland Security
206) H.R. 2623, Clarifying and expanding the definition of certain persons under the federal securities law
207) H.R. 2646, Government Accountability Office Improvement Act
208) H.R. 2661, Court Security Enhancement Act
209) H.R. 2664, Promoting Transparency in Financial Reporting Act
210) H.R. 2693, Oil Pollution Research and Development Program Reauthorization Act
211) H.R. 2728, William Orton Law Library Improvement and Modernization Act
212) H.R. 2729, Authorizing designation of National Environmental Research Parks
213) H.R. 2741, Regarding water recycling and reuse project in Hermiston, Oregon
214) H.R. 2749, Food Safety Enhancement Act
215) H.R. 2751, Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act
216) H.R. 2770, Veterans Nonprofit Research and Education Corporations Enhancement Act
217) H.R. 2780, Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act
218) H.R. 2781, Designating segment of Molalla River in Oregon as part of National Wild and Scenic Rivers System
219) H.R. 2788, Distinguished Flying Cross National Memorial Act
220) H.R. 2806, Adjusting border of Stephen Mather Wilderness and the North Cascades National Park
221) H.R. 2843, Architect of the Capitol Appointment Act
222) H.R. 2864, Amending the Hydrographic Services Improvement Act
223) H.R. 2868, Chemical and Water Security Act
224) H.R. 2873, Enhanced SEC Enforcement Authority Act
225) H.R. 2947, Securities Law Technical Corrections Act
226) H.R. 2950, Regarding prepayment of contracts between U.S. and Uintah Water Conservancy District
227) H.R. 3014, Small Business Health Information Technology Financing Act
228) H.R. 3029, Improving Efficiency of Gas Turbines
229) H.R. 3040, Senior Financial Empowerment Act
230) H.R. 3101, 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act
231) H.R. 3113, Upper Elk River Wild and Scenic Study Act
232) H.R. 3123, Regarding collapsed drainage tunnel in Leadville, Colorado
233) H.R. 3125, Radio Spectrum Inventory Act
234) H.R. 3137, Regarding authority of U.S. Postal Service to accept donations as an additional source of funding for commemorative plaques
235) H.R. 3146, 21st Century FHA Housing Act
236) H.R. 3157, Naming Max J. Beilke Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic
237) H.R. 3165, Wind Energy Research and Development Act
238) H.R. 3175, Conveying to Miami-Dade County certain federally owned land in Florida
239) H.R. 3193, Naming Alto Lee Adams, Sr., U.S. Courthouse in Fort Pierce, Florida
240) H.R. 3224, Building a vehicle maintenance building for Smithsonian Institution
241) H.R. 3237, Enacting certain laws relating to national and commercial space programs
242) H.R. 3246, Advanced Vehicle Technology Act
243) H.R. 3254, Taos Pueblo Indian Water Rights Settlement Act
244) H.R. 3276, American Medical Isotopes Production Act
245) H.R. 3305, Naming H. Dale Cook Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Tulsa, Oklahoma
246) H.R. 3342, Aamodt Litigation Settlement Act
247) H.R. 3388, Petersburg National Battlefield Boundary Modification Act
248) H.R. 3476, Reauthorizing the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area Citizen Advisory Commission
249) H.R. 3506, Eliminate Privacy Notice Confusion Act
250) H.R. 3527, FHA Multifamily Loan Limit Adjustment Act
251) H.R. 3534, CLEAR Act (Hold BP Responsible for Oil Spill)
252) H.R. 3537, Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program Reauthorization Act
253) H.R. 3542, State Admission Day Recognition Act
254) H.R. 3553, Indian Veterans Housing Opportunity Act
255) H.R. 3570, Satellite Home Viewer Reauthorization Act
256) H.R. 3585, Solar Technology Roadmap Act
257) H.R. 3598, Energy and Water Research Integration Act
258) H.R. 3603, Renaming the Ocmulgee National Monument
259) H.R. 3618, Clean Hull Act
260) H.R. 3631, Medicare Premium Fairness Act
261) H.R. 3644, Ocean, Coastal, and Watershed Education Act
262) H.R. 3650, Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act
263) H.R. 3671, Upper Mississippi River Basin Protection Act
264) H.R. 3689, Extending legislative authority of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
265) H.R. 3695, Billy’s Law (relating to National Missing and Unidentified Persons System)
266) H.R. 3726, Castle Nugent National Historic Site Establishment Act
267) H.R. 3737, Small Business Microlending Expansion Act
268) H.R. 3738, Small Business Early-Stage Investment Act
269) H.R. 3743, Small Business Disaster Readiness and Reform Act
270) H.R. 3759, BLM Contract Extension Act
271) H.R. 3763, Making Certain Amendments to Fair Credit Reporting Act
272) H.R. 3791, Fire Grants Reauthorization Act
273) H.R. 3804, National Park Service Authorities and Corrections Act
274) H.R. 3808, Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act
275) H.R. 3820, Natural Hazards Risk Reduction Act
276) H.R. 3854, Small Business Financing and Investment Act
277) H.R. 3885, Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act
278) H.R. 3913, Directing Mayor of District of Columbia to establish a District of Columbia National Guard Educational Assistance Program
279) H.R. 3923, Sugar Loaf Fire Protection District Land Exchange Act
280) H.R. 3940, Facilitating public education programs in the non-self-governing territories of the United States
281) H.R. 3949, Veterans’ Small Business Assistance and Servicemembers Protection Act
282) H.R. 3954, Florida National Forest Land Adjustment Act
283) H.R. 3963, Criminal Investigative Training Restoration Act
284) H.R. 3967, Extending National Great Black Americans Commemoration Act
285) H.R. 3976, Helping Heroes Keep Their Homes Act
286) H.R. 3980, Redundancy Elimination and Enhanced Performance for Preparedness Grants Act
287) H.R. 3989, Heart Mountain Relocation Center Study Act
288) H.R. 3993, Calling Card Consumer Protection Act
289) H.R. 4003, Hudson River Valley Special Resource Study Act
290) H.R. 4061, Cybersecurity Enhancement Act
291) H.R. 4098, Secure Federal File Sharing Act
292) H.R. 4154, Permanent Estate Tax Relief for Families, Farmers and Small Businesses Act
293) H.R. 4178, Deposit Restricted Qualified Tuition Programs Act
294) H.R. 4194, Law Student Clinic Participation Act
295) H.R. 4247, Keeping All Students Safe Act
296) H.R. 4252, Inland Empire Perchlorate Ground Water Plume Assessment Act
297) H.R. 4307, Naming Alejandro Renteria Ruiz Department of Veterans Affairs Clinic
298) H.R. 4349, Hoover Power Allocation Act
299) H.R. 4395, Revising the boundaries of the Gettysburg National Military Park
300) H.R. 4438, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park Boundary Expansion Act
301) H.R. 4445, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center Clarification Act
302) H.R. 4451, Collinsville Renewable Energy Promotion Act
303) H.R. 4474, Idaho Wilderness Water Facilities Act
304) H.R. 4491, Buffalo Soldiers in the National Parks Study Act
305) H.R. 4495, Naming Jim Kolbe Post Office in Patagonia, Arizona
306) H.R. 4505, Enabling State homes to furnish nursing home care to parents any of whose children died while serving in the Armed Forces
307) H.R. 4506, Bankruptcy Judgeship Act
308) H.R. 4514, Colonel Charles Young Home Study Act
309) H.R. 4543, Naming Anthony J. Cortese Post Offie Building in San Jose, California
310) H.R. 4592, Energy Jobs for Veterans Act
311) H.R. 4614, Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA Collection Act
312) H.R. 4624, Naming SPC Nicholas Scott Hartge Post Office in Rome City, Indiana
313) H.R. 4626, Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act
314) H.R. 4658, Benton MacKaye Cherokee National Forest Land Consolidation Act
315) H.R. 4667, Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act
316) H.R. 4686, Rota Cultural and Natural Resources Study Act
317) H.R. 4692, National Manufacturing Strategy Act
318) H.R. 4748, Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy Act
319) H.R. 4773, Fort Pulaski National Monument Lease Authorization Act
320) H.R. 4783, Accelerating income tax benefits for charitable cash contributions for the relief of victims of the earthquake in Chile
321) H.R. 4810, End Veteran Homelessness Act
322) H.R. 4825, Directing unused appropriations for Members’ Representational Allowances to be deposited in the Treasury and used for deficit reduction or to reduce the federal debt
323) H.R. 4842, Homeland Security Science and Technology Authorization Act
324) H.R. 4849, Small Business and Infrastructure Jobs Tax Act
325) H.R. 4973, National Wildlife Refuge Volunteer Improvement Act
326) H.R. 4994, Taxpayer Assistance Act
327) H.R. 5013, IMPROVE Acquisition Act
328) H.R. 5017, Rural Housing Preservation and Stabilization Act
329) H.R. 5019, Home Star Jobs Act
330) H.R. 5026, GRID Act
331) H.R. 5072, FHA Reform Act
332) H.R. 5114, Flood Insurance Reform Priorities Act
333) H.R. 5116, America COMPETES Reauthorization Act
334) H.R. 5133, Naming Staff Sergeant Frank T. Carvill and Lance Corporal Michael A. Schwarz Post Office Building in Carlstadt, New Jersey
335) H.R. 5136, National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2011
336) H.R. 5138, International Megan’s Law
337) H.R. 5143, National Criminal Justice Commission Act
338) H.R. 5145, Assuring Quality Care for Veterans Act
339) H.R. 5156, Clean Energy Technology Manufacturing and Export Assistance Act
340) H.R. 5175, DISCLOSE Act
341) H.R. 5220, Eunice Kennedy Shriver Act (reauthorizing the Special Olympics Sport and Empowerment Act of 2004)
342) H.R. 5266, National Commission on Children and Disasters Reauthorization Act
343) H.R. 5281, Removal Clarification Act
344) H.R. 5297, Small Business Jobs and Credit Act
345) H.R. 5320, Assistance, Quality and Affordability Act (Amendments to Safe Drinking Water Act)
346) H.R. 5327, United States-Israel Rocket and Missile Defense Cooperation and Support Act
347) H.R. 5341, Naming Joyce Rogers Post Office Building in Brighton, Michigan
348) H.R. 5390, Naming David John Donafee Post Office Building in Cleveland, Ohio
349) H.R. 5414, Conveying small parcel of National Forest System land in the Francis Marion National Forest in South Carolina
350) H.R. 5450, Naming Tom Bradley Post Office Building in Los Angeles, California
351) H.R. 5481, Giving Subpoena Power to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
352) H.R. 5503, Just Compensation for Families of BP Oil Spill Victims (SPILL Act)
353) H.R. 5532, International Adoption Harmonization Act
354) H.R. 5545, Deauthorizing a portion of Potomac River navigation water project, under the jurisdiction of the Corps of Engineers
355) H.R. 5551, Requiring Secretary of Treasury to certify that determinations on the disbursements from the Small Business Lending Fund are based on economic need
356) H.R. 5566, Prevention of Interstate Commerce in Animal Crush Videos Act
357) H.R. 5604, Surface Transportation Savings Act
358) H.R. 5609, Amending the Lobbyist Disclosure Act to prohibit lobbying activities on behalf of nations determined to be state sponsors of terrorism
359) H.R. 5662, STALKERS Act
360) H.R. 5669, Directing Secretary of Agriculture to convey certain federally owned land located in Story County, Iowa
361) H.R. 5681, Improving Administrative Operations at the Library of Congress
362) H.R. 5682, Improving Operation of Certain Facilities and Programs of the House of Representatives
363) H.R. 5712, Veterans’, Seniors’, and Children’s Health Technical Corrections Act
364) H.R. 5716, Safer Oil and Natural Gas Drilling Technology Research and Development Act
365) H.R. 5730, Surface Transportation Earmark Rescission, Savings and Accountability Act
366) H.R. 5751, Lobbying Disclosure Enhancement Act
367) H.R. 5810, Securing Aircraft Cockpits Against Lasers Act
368) H.R. 5822, FY 2011 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act
369) H.R. 5825, Multi-State Disaster Relief Act
370) H.R. 5827, Protecting Gun Owners in Bankruptcy Act
371) H.R. 5850, FY 2011 Transportation-HUD Appropriations Act
372) H.R. 5901, Real Estate Jobs and Investment Act

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Truth in Political Advertising

Here it is, plain and simple.  We are fed up with politicians, political organizations, and news media lying, distorting facts, and misleading the public.  Think about recent claims of communists in Congress, abortion statistics about Planned Parenthood, or clearly disproven claims about government growth.  The list goes on and on.  And the truth is that such statements are not protected by the 1st Amendment.  The Federal Trade Commission requires truth in consumer advertising, including clear disclaimers to distinguish facts from opinions when discussing medical issues or making claims about legal or financial outcomes.  The same standard must be held to people using the print, airwaves or internet media to educate or influence you, the public.

We propose the following Truth in Political Statements federal law.
Politicians (including their employees and representatives), political organizations (as defined by the FEC and/or IRS) and media outlets (whether for- or not-for-profit) that provide content intended to educate, inform or influence the public, must provide proof of and links to credible and verifiable sources for all claims and statements that are not clearly and explicitly stated to be the opinion of the speaker or organization. Failure to provide such factual bases and support shall result in a public retraction and/or admonition of use of unsubstantiated statements or opinion presented as fact. Claims or statements made as fact that are shown to be false will be publicly retracted and corrected. All such corrections, retractions, clarifications and admonitions will be made by the speaker or organization who made them, at their exclusive expense, and in all media outlets, forms and markets in which those statements were made.  
Imagine if, during the black and white images and ominous music of super-pac smear advertisements, there were a clear message at the bottom of the screen that says "This is the opinion of Citizens United" or gave a URL to the viewer so you could see their facts.  Imagine if a candidate trying to score cheap points by smearing their opponent knew that they would have to pay double to correct every false statement they made.  Certainly, some groups would try to find sneaky ways to work around the system, but it sure would go a long way to cleaning up the (mis)information flying around and bring genuine accountability to the very people who should be most accountable.  Put another way, it worked for Pinocchio...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Many states using $2.5 billion mortgage settlement to solve budget woes.

Today the NY Times reported that "more than a dozen states...want to help close gaping [budget] shortfalls using money paid by the nation's biggest banks and earmarked for foreclosure prevention, investigations of financial fraud and blunting the ill effects of the housing crisis."  In other words, these states are not using the money to help homeowners, but instead to balance their budgets or pay down state debt.

According to a report by Enterprise Community Partners, 6 states are not using their funds for housing, an additional 9 states are only using part of their funds for housing, and 9 are still deciding. Who are the culprits?

Alaska, Georgia, Missouri, South Carolina, South Dakota and Virginia have designated or proposed to use about 98% of their combined $243 million for non-housing spending.  Georgia will use all $99 million for economic development, Missouri has has designated $40 million to "soften planned cuts to higher education," South Carolina has designated all $31 million to encourage businesses to move to the state, and Virginia has proposed all but $1 million to offset cuts to state and local government and give state employees a 3% raise.

Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, North Carolina, Nebraska, Utah, Wisconsin and West Virginia have designated at least $126 million (over 60%) of their total $203 million for state general funds.  Today, the Times reported that Texas sent $125 million into its state coffers, and that California will use the bulk of its $400 million to pay state debts.

Not to put a political spin on it, but of these 17 states, only 2 are designated "blue" by the last five presidential votes, with the other 15 either red or "purple."  We leave it up to you to decide whether this is typical of conservative government, but we submit that money sent to a state for a particular purpose should be used only for that purpose, and that states who fail to do so should have to pay all the money back.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Don't Forget to Thank North Carolina

North Carolina's recently passed "Amendment One" may have upset about half the country but we should take a second to applaud the authors for enacting a law that attempts to punish everyone equally.  One of our main pushes on this blog has been to require legislation that takes away the rights of one group to be balanced by measures that equally take away the rights of everyone else. Tit for tat, if you will.  In banning gay marriage, the North Carolina senate also banned all other forms of civil union and domestic partnership, which affects all citizens (straight or gay) who wish to benefit from the legal protections of marriage without entering into the religious institution.  Granted, a more reasonable ballot measure would have been to outlaw all marriage, but this is certainly a noble first step.

There is little doubt that many groups will bring suit against this state's amendment on a variety of arguments.  It certainly reads to us that this restriction violates the 13th Amendment.  In the meantime, take a few minutes to congratulate North Carolinians on screwing over everyone, rather than just the targets of their narrow-minded bigotry.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Remember the unintended mothers.

Mother's Day is an important celebration of the immeasurable value of our mothers.  They are the sparkling gems in all our lives.  To moms everywhere, we love you.

But just as during great feasts, we remember the hungry, so too should we remember the mothers in our own country who didn't want to be.  

There are teenage mothers who were exclusively taught "abstinence only" by their parents, churches and schools and found themselves with the surprise of a lifetime.  There are mothers whose partners abandoned them.  There are mothers who sought abortions but were either too shamed or legally barred by their state's anti-choice statutes.  There are mothers too poor for adequate health care for themselves and their baby.  There are mothers who steal and go hungry just to feed their children.  

We have abandoned all these mothers, through restrictive laws, economic strangleholds, and freedom-slashing "social values."  If you truly love all mothers, then you need to remind your lawmakers that there are very real and very tragic victims of today's conservative agenda.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Reprimand Liars: Pay for Truth

On May 3, Stephanie Cutter (Deputy Campaign Manager for Obama 2012) put out a short video responding to a new $6.1 million ad campaign financed by the Koch Brothers.  You can see it here.  The essence of the video was to tell the truth about a number of lies that were made in the Koch Bros' ads.    The problem is that Ms. Cutter's response relies on the viral nature of internet clips and will mostly be only seen by people who do not already need convincing, while the Koch et al. campaign will blitz everyone. This is just an example, and this post is not to raise up one party or put down the other.  It is about truth.

Defamation* is is illegal but the legal fees and time needed to sue in court are so excessive that in politics, there simply isn't time to let the justice system provide adequate protection.  In effect, I can essentially say anything I want about my opponents and leave them to clean up the mess.  They are forced to waste their money and time to set the record straight, are derailed from their message, and may lose an election not because they were bad candidates but because they were the covered with the most muck.

Right now, the FTC "truth in advertising" law requires that all advertising be truthful, fair and substantiated but this is limited to protecting consumers, i.e., advertisements for something that you buy or pay for.  So politicians can use the same "telecommunications and electricity" governed by the FTC to say just about anything that want, under the legal protection of the First Amendment and the practical protection of our legal red tape.  

Now imagine if we changed our laws slightly.  First, broaden the definition of "consumer" in federal truth-in-advertising laws to anyone paying attention to the advertisement.  Second, amend our defamation laws to include a simple reprimand that anyone issuing falsifiable statements as facts has to retract and correct their statements in the exact same way in which their original claims were made.  

Knowing that you have to stand back up on that podium and retract your claim about 80 communists in the Senate, or that you have to pay another $6.4 billion to correct all your malicious claims in prime-time TV might just be the kick-in-the-pants needed to make our leaders, and their wealthy supporters, think twice before opening their mouths.  Maybe elections would become a little more about the best candidate winning versus the last one standing.  

The protection of free speech is a cornerstone to our society, but we have to weigh this against (1) the rampant abuses that are being made now that anyone with enough money can have a microphone with nationwide reach, and (2) the ethical requirement that people who are or aspire to be our leaders should do so truthfully and without deception.  It would be interesting to see lawyers argue before the Supreme Court that the First Amendment protects the rights of people in positions of enormous public influence to lie to us.  

If you agree, please write your Congressional and Senate representatives and tell them to Reprimand the liars and bring facts back to the public discourse.

*Cribbed from wikipediaDefamation—also called calumnyvilificationtraducementslander (for transitory statements), and libel (for written, broadcast, or otherwise published words)—is the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individualbusinessproductgroupgovernment, or nation a negative image.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on.

"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on."
-Winston Churchill

Over the last few years, the liberal "blogosphere" has become increasingly infested with reports of lies, deception, fear mongering and general dishonesty coming out of the conservative-leaning blogosphere, and to be fair, I've read plenty of liberal blogs that do their own share of distortion and selective reporting for partisan gain.  One of my favorites was when the liberal blogs reported that an audience at a GOP Presidental-candidate debate booed a gay soldier, when in fact they were booing a man who heckled the soldier.  It happens all the time and is to be expected when the public gets an unedited voice to report the news.  In general, I do not share in the outrage that even the more popular liberal blogs display over the stupid statements made by their conservative counterparts.

What I cannot accept, and I hope you agree, is when partisan politics mixes with those with the reach and influence blatantly spit on their ethical responsibility to report honestly.  I am thinking about national news media, like Fox News, or syndicated programming hosts, like Rush Limbaugh, and yes, even many of our nationally-elected officials and candidates.  They all know that ratings, attention, popularity and votes come from (a) telling people what they want to hear, and (b) making themselves look better than everyone else.  Following Mr. Churchill's very wise observation, once the misinformation is out, it is essentially impossible to combat, and anyone trying to score political gain relies on this sad but very true fact of communication and human nature.

A few years ago I was listening to NPR (I am a bleeding-heart liberal, after all) coverage of some GOP event where a Senator had been making unsubstantiated claims against the Democrats.  The reporter asked a Senator if his statements were true and he said (I'm paraphrasing here) that it was the news media's job to verify the facts of his statements, not his.  I do wish I could remember who and when this was, but it wasn't just him.  This happens almost daily, because politicians know that their sound bytes will get front-page headlines and free airtime, and the correction will be hidden on page 7 of every paper.

Just this week, Mitt Romney made the unsubstantiated claim that "of all jobs lost during the Obama years, 92.% of them are women."  Fact checking website Politifact has labeled this claim Mostly False.  Does this matter?  The claim is out there, and the lion's share of the people who heard it are not trying to see if it is true or false.  If it won points for Mr. Romney, then he and his campaign are done caring about it.  Another lie spun, unable to be undone.

I expect that most of the people who make these kinds of statements are relying on their 1st Amendment right to free speech, and their knowledge that it is far too complicated, costly and ineffective to sue in court for damages that came from the lies.  In other word, our whole justice system is laid out to help the lie travel and keep the truth looking for its belt.  In the short term there may not be a practical solution other than blasting the blogosphere with fact finding and hoping that some of these make their ways into the consciousnesses of the people who blindly believe whatever they hear.

In the longer term, wouldn't it be better to pass federal legislation that requires political statements made on national stages to be vetted before they come out of the candidate's mouth?  There is precedent for this: candidates have to endorse paid political advertisements, which was intended to hold them to some measure of accountability.  Why not widen the accountability?  Why not actively promote truth as well as justice.  Will it be complicated?  Certainly.  Will it be contentious?  Without a doubt.  Does it stand for what American values ought to be?  Absolutely.  And as a bonus, if you oppose it, you are advocating the freedom to lie on a national scale with a free microphone.

Please consider writing your lawmakers and encourage them to draft legislation that requires a standard of factual evidence and truth to statements made on political issues.  It is time for lies to wear a few chains on their legs so the truth has its fair shake.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Stand Your Ground or License to Murder?

One of our readers works for the IRS, catching people for cheating on their taxes.  Certainly this is a job where you can make enemies very quickly.  We were thinking, what could happen to such a person in a Stand-Your-Ground state?  One very pissed-off individual could follow you until you go into some dark, isolated place, shoot you point blank, hit themselves a few times in the face, and claim that the shooting was self defense for you attacking them.  Yes, this sounds a bit like a plot for Law & Order.  Ten states already have, or are considering enacting, stand-your-ground laws.  If there are no witnesses and one person is dead, it is very challenging for the police to distinguish between legally-justified homicide and cold-blooded murder?  At least in most states, you need to at least try to run away, and it is very difficult to carry a gun on your person.  When the law clearly states that you are immune from prosecution for killing a person in self-defense without first trying to run away, very few obstacles remain from turning that gun into a license to kill.

Concealed weapon permits and stand-your-ground laws may provide personal security and liberty to the gun holder, but as we have seen from the Trayvon Martin case, they steal those same rights away from the victim.  

The Second Amendment does not give the right to any person to weaponize in public.  Although it is ambiguously written, it should be clear enough that "a well-regulated militia" is not a random group of unsupervised armed citizens.  Conservatives might counter that it takes considerable time, money and training to secure a concealed-carry permit, but is this any guarantee that the person will not mow down someone with that pistol in a moment of haste, stupidity, hatred or bigotry?  

Is it time to take control of gun laws by returning to the text of the 2nd Amendment and not the lobbying efforts of the NRA and their gun-loving associates?  Mr. Martin is just the notable case of the day, but how many innocent people are killed by gunfire per day?  According to wikipedia, in 2000 there were 75,000 non-fatal injuries and 31,000 deaths from firearms.  Whether homicide or suicide, intentional or accidental, over 100,000 people were hurt or killed with guns.   It shouldn't require a boy who could have been the President's son to turn our attention to this issue, but now that we are facing it, let's really do something.

Write your lawmakers and tell them that the 2nd Amendment clearly limits gun ownership to "a well-ordered militia" meaning a supervised group of trained and accountable citizens, not a random collection of people who can afford a pistol and few weeks of training.  

Friday, April 13, 2012

Dem vs. GOP = Altruism vs. Greed?

World-reknowned biologist and all-around-smart-guy E. O. Wilson has published his latest book, The Social Conquest of Earth.  This book covers the current scientific theory of "group selection" in human evolution.  In a given human group, the greedy people are the ones who do better, while competition between groups favors those which are altruistic.  This got us thinking about American politics, and in particular, the suggestion that one primary difference between conservatives and liberals is the moral imperative to preserve hierarchies versus the imperative to promote equality for all.

Is the hierarchy an expression of greed that best favors individuals within a single group, while equality is the altruistic trait that allows a group to succeed over others?  If so, then these factors that regulate social conquest and human evolution are the inescapable two sides of any coin, the yin and yang of any society in a global context.

As Dr. Wilson noted, there is no way to avoid the interplay of greed and altruism, but that it is necessary to learn to moderate them.  In other words, we are just as stuck with conservatives and liberals as we are with night and day.  A lot of time is spent ranting about this being a fight of "good" versus "evil" but rather, it seems to be an issue of teaching each other to think less selfishly and more to think about the well-being of others.  We can learn to temper the extent to which greed (promotion of the individual) wins out over altruism (promotion of the group).

American society today is in the throes of a wave of conservative selfishness.  Disproportionate amounts of wealth are held by handfuls of people, and the GOP is hell-bent on keeping it this way.  Conservatives are pushing rights-limiting legislation to slowly chip away at the freedoms of all people to force all citizens to live the way they do.  Fear is spread more than truth, science is treated as a scourge, and even the most unpolitical issues are politicized into divisive wedge issues, all by the conservative media.  Conservative candidates seem to want to be elected much more than they want to govern, because being in charge means being at the top of the social order.  To me, at least, it all makes sense now.

Selfishness puts one at the top of the hierarchy and keeps things good for those who have it, while making those who don't slobber and drool at the prospect that one day, it could be theirs too.

I have to suspect that those who aren't already rich, dream of seeing themselves in biggest house at the richest end of town, and ask, "how could I ever get in there if everyone is truly equal?  All my wealth would be taken from me and shared with the lazy and undeserving to prop them up, and when I make it big, I want to keep every last penny!"

What is lost is the bigger view, that working only for your own gain does not help the group as a whole.  Human history and evolution over the last few million years shows this to be true.   The Founding Fathers figured this out when they created America to be a country unlike any other.  I have a hard time seeing how we can maintain the greatness which conservatives to tightly cleave to, if we are chopping our own knees off by failing to keep up the very acts and practices that got us here.  A country of inequality cannot prosper on a global scale.

At this point, the ideological entrenchment of prominent conservatives is so deep that they may not be able to see the importance of altruism until the consequences of their own selfishness are rained down upon them just as severely as their choices affect others.  This is why we created the REPRIMAND project, and now we have learned that there is a solid scientific argument behind it.  The path to equality for all will require breaking down the walls of hierarchy by teaching our conservative counterparts to recognize and moderate their selfish impulses.

If you agree with these thoughts, please SHARE them far and wide with your friends so that we all do more than merely complain about the problem.  Write your lawmakers and explain to them the importance of striking back against all restrictive conservative legislation with measures that affect them just as deeply, if not more.  By educating conservatives, we can change the future for the better.

Counter abortion limits by banning ED treatment over 38.

Today, Arizona became the seventh state in the last two years to place highly-restrictive bans on abortions, banning so-called "late term" abortions after 20 weeks.  The blogosphere is already full of rightful condemnation so we won't heap on that pile.  By now it should be obvious that this platform of the conservative agenda has enough momentum to keep going, and with it, many other restrictive acts that methodically strip away our equal rights.  Nothing will stop unless there is a popular revolt among its members.

If these were the draconian actions of a dictatorship, we would react by isolating the government and slowly squeezing the people into turning against their leaders by banning trade, cutting food assistance, seizing bank assets, and generally making everyone too miserable to allow their dictators to stay in power.  

Can we, the American people who seek equality for all, do the same?  We've tried political slogans, sound bytes, petitions and chastising on comedy shows.  The problem is that we are almost always preaching to our own congregation.  The new solution is to hit them right back, tit for tat, with laws that take away from conservatives just as many rights and privileges that they consider sacred.  This is the point of our REPRIMAND project.  Consider what would have happened in Arizona today if there were a federal mandate that all laws that restrict the liberty of one subset of our population must contain equally restrictive provisions for everyone else.

The 20-week limit on abortion is roughly half of the full gestational period of a pregnancy.  So if women are going to have their legal rights (remember, abortion is legal under federal law) limited to 50%, then men need to have an equivalent restriction. Since this is about reproductive rights and freedom, let's limit the amount of time a man can have access to erectile-dysfunction (ED) treatment to, say, the first 50% of his life.  The average life expectancy of an American man is about 76 years, so every man should be unable to receive treatment if they are older than 38.  Enact that in a state legislature and watch the sparks fly.

If you really want to stop the conservatives from legislating their hierarchical morality on all Americans, tell your state and federal lawmakers that it is time to legislate in kind, each and every time an issue of life, liberty, justice or equality under the law is sliced away by conservatives.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Conservative Values are Anti-American.

There is a short and very important video circulating on YouTube and Facebook: How Conservatives Think - Adam Strange - YouTube.  In it, the basic difference is laid out between social conservatives and liberals:  Conservatives insist on preserving a hierarchy as their moral imperative.  Liberals insist on equal-rights-for-all as theirs.  

On this blog we have explored this same issue under a variety of names: Conservatives Take, Liberals Give.  The Conservative Agenda: Separate and Unequal.  Conservatives will not stop taking away your rights until you start taking away theirs.

However we word this, there is a common and critical goal: get the word out, not just to like-minded liberals (i.e. preaching to the converted) but to everyone.  Whether you repost this page, or help make Adam Strange's video go viral, please do your part to make sure everyone knows that today's social conservatives are never going to make America into what America is supposed to be.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The best argument against right-wing politics.

I had dinner with a friend last week who is training to be a member of the clergy, and since we had already hit the taboo dinner subject of religion, we touched on politics as well.  He told me that people always ask him which party he identifies with, and are very surprised to hear that he is a self-identified liberal.  His reason was this: 

Whether the mistake is legislative, civic, personal, secular, religious, in the home or on the streets, this is perhaps the most succinct and powerful argument I've ever heard to refute the incessant chest- and bible-thumping from conservative squawkers and the religious right.  The next time a right-wing fanatic (whether an anonymous Facebook commentator or a national lawmaker) starts spouting their hate- or restriction-filled rhetoric, ask them this question.  Ask them what would Jesus do?  If they respond that Jesus never sinned, remind them that he still hit his thumb with a hammer when trying to strike nails.

Republicans Take, Democrats Give.

I have been away at a conference for the last week and took some time off from the news to, well, cheer up.  As I sat down this morning and read through the unending litany of nonsense that the GOP has done in just the last 10 days, I came to this inescapable conclusion.  Republicans, conservatives, tea partiers, whatever you want to call them, they are not legislating on the local, state or national level to preserve, provide and protect life, liberty, freedom and happiness for everyone, but to methodically strip away those preservations, provisions and protections to fit their own narrow definition of how we should be living and leading our lives.  In short, all I see are Republicans taking away.

You can share this with your friends, and rant and rave to the people who already agree with you and nothing will change because you are preaching to the converted.  Or you can take this message to your lawmakers and demand that they enact laws that strike back in kind to every restriction that the GOP lays down.  Signing petitions isn't enough.  Buying a few bumper stickers won't suffice (although it puts a few pennies in my wallet).  Even voting them out of office isn't enough.  The political platform of today's conservative electorate will not stop until they experience consequences just as severe as they are causing to others.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The hypocritical GOP war on healthcare

Today I visited the GOP website and the front splash is "Repeal Obamacare," showing a lawsuit of the people of the United States versus The Obama Administration.  The petition message reads: As the Republican Attorneys General from the twenty-six states challenging the constitutionality of Barack Obama and the radical Democrats' disastrous "ObamaCare" healthcare takeover prepare to make our case for liberty before the United States Supreme Court, I am proud to offer my pledge of support to these principled men and women working to safeguard our precious American freedoms.

I am so amused when I sneak onto Facebook and blog conversations among staunch conservatives and read their parroted missives from the likes of Rush and Fox News about how the Liberal Conspiracies have ruined the fabric of America.  I feel a little more indignant when this comes straight from the official mouth of the Republican National Committee.

The Affordable Healthcare Act (e.g. ObamaCare) was enacted two years ago, which is why both parties are making a scene: Dems are celebrating its passage and the GOP are flagellating because it has contaminated our purity of essence. You can tell which side of the argument I am on.  Here are just some of my arguments against the GOP's crusade to convince Americans that healthcare is wrong.  
  1. First of all, grammar check for the GOP author: was the legislation radical, or were the Democrats who passed it? It was passed 219-212 in the House and 60-39 in the Senate.  Since 100% of the Senate Democrats and over 90% of House Democrats voted for it, the GOP has articulated that nearly all Democrats are Radicals.  Dear author of the petition: if you meant to say the legislation is radical, LEARN TO WRITE!!  Oh wait, educated people are liberal snobs.  My mistake...
  2. Is the healthcare act disastrous?  Let's first talk dollars.  A quick check of the non-partisan OMB says that over 10 years, the statute could lead to a deficit reduction over 1 trillion dollars, with a longer-term deficit reduction around 0.5% of the GDP.   A more recent estimate from the CBO also suggests 50 billion dollars in savings in insurance subsidies.  Even if all of these are overestimates by a factor of two, we are still talking about HUGE savings to taxpayers.   In other words, deficit reduction and less taxpayer burden is disastrous to our country and way of life.  
  3. Let's now talk impact to citizen health.  The CBO estimates that by 2019, there will be 32 million more Americans with healthcare.  By the end of 2011, the number of uninsured 19-25 year olds declined by almost 400,000. And just to ice the top of this cake, many small businesses started offering healthcare insurance for the first time.  Medicare medicine costs dropped by about 40% on average.  Again, more Americans with affordable healthcare coverage is going to destroy the fabric of our great country.
  4. There is no rational argument to be made that health insurance doesn't save money.   
  5. Do the statutes threaten our liberty and "precious American freedoms?"  The United States Consitution was enacted, in part, to "promote the general welfare."  How does one promote the welfare of citizens if they are unable to sustain an acceptable quality of life by maintaining reasonable access to medical care?  How does one enjoy life, liberty and pursuit of happiness if one must face financial ruin to cure treatable illnesses?  In short, how does keeping the population healthy diminish our freedom?  
  6. Do "precious American freedoms" refer to keeping the government out of our houses and our lives so that we can all do as we please?  If so, then this is the great conservative hypocrisy: I can pass radically-intrustive laws telling you how to run your life, but you can't do anything that even risks being intrusive to me.  It is not only acceptable, but the sacred duty of a conservative to actively invade or restrict my life if I'm doing things they don't like (i.e. abortion control, access to contraceptives, prayer and creationism in school, just to name a few) while vigorously crying foul if the government even suggests that they do something, whether or not they like it.  Simply put, why is it right for the GOP to shove a medically unecessary probe up a woman's uterus but wrong to give everyone medically necessary healthcare coverage?
  7. The litany of conservative hypocrisy does not stop there.  Imagine what would happen if Senator Reid stood up this morning on the Senate floor and announced a new task force to investigate ending unemployment insurance, social security, and food-assistance programs.  Would the GOP and all of its constituents be up in arms?  These are all socialized forms of federal assistance, where everyone pays in whether they like it or not.  Is the GOP vigorously fighting social security or unemployment insurance?  Every person who pays taxes on salary must pay into these through mandatory FICA contributions.  Are these programs "disastrous," created by unprincipled men and women, and threatening to destroy "our precious American freedoms?"  If these "entitlement" or "social-safety net" programs are good for America, then how exactly is a nationalized healthcare system dangerous?
What can we do to stop these ideological policies of "just say no" and "separate and unequal?"  It may really come down to a tit-for-tat series of laws like the REPRIMAND legislation that we are promoting.  Conservatives acting on their own, and the GOP in general, may not stop taking away our rights until it starts happening equivalently and in kind to them.  There have been a lot of arguments that "an eye for an eye makes the world go blind" through mutually-assured destruction but such a threat can also have a very strong deterrent effect.  Think of how well President Reagan's nuclear missile shield worked (whether or not you agree with what he did).  

If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired (to paraphrase Monty Python) please forward these ideas to your friends, and write your lawmakers urging them to consider what our REPRIMAND laws would accomplish.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

REPRIMAND and women's rights–one image says it all

The image below shows an incomplete timeline of GOP and conservative-backed legislation and public nonsense centered on Women's Health and Reproductive Rights (if this is incomplete, what does a complete listing look like?).  How much of this would have happened if the REPRIMAND laws were in effect?  Would men across the country be up in arms if laws were passed requiring invasive and unnecessary medical probing of a man's anus?  Would men sit quietly if the law required them to pay at least half the costs of an unwanted pregnancy they caused?  Would majority-male legislative bodies so callously pass invasive transvaginal-ultrasound laws if men had to have equally-invasive procedures in exchange?  

If you don't think that tit-for-tat laws are necessary, just study the figure below, and ask yourselves what the coming years of the conservative "separate and unequal" agenda will bring.  Write your lawmakers and tell them enough is enough.  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

On gun violence and Trayvon Martin

Sorry to jump on the bandwagon of obvious criticism and understandable outrage regarding the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, but it seems there are two highly unequal laws that allowed this to happen.  First, many states have very liberal gun ownership and carry laws.  You have to wince at the irony that most of these are extremely politically conservative.  Second, the "stand your ground" law gives you the right to use deadly force without trying to retreat if you are outside your house.

It isn't very difficult to find an overabundance of commentary on how dangerous these laws are.  Let's approach the issue instead from a question of equality.

On the surface, a state that allows carrying concealed weapons would seem to provide uniform privilege to all law-abiding citizens.  However, since not everyone exercises this right, anyone carrying a weapon is radically more lethal than most everyone around them.  What kinds of restrictions are placed on carry permits?  Since Florida is in the news, here is information from its Division of Licensing.  First, A Note From the Commissioner says:
Applying for a license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm for self-defense is a right of law-abiding Floridians. However, you must remember that a license to carry a weapon or firearm concealed on your person does not authorize you to use that weapon. Use of a concealed weapon or firearm is regulated by other provisions of Florida law. It is my hope that you will exercise your lawful right to carry a concealed weapon or firearm responsibly, properly, and safely.
Please note that the lawful use of the weapon is only expressed as a hope.  Seriously, just a hope???  I tell my children "I hope you don't hit each other" but they still do; fortunately a slap isn't very long-lasting, but does land them in time-out.  The state says "we hope you don't kill other people" and yes, if you do, you will probably land in jail, but that doesn't bring the other person back to life.  In any case, we grabbed an application here, and find the minimum requirements for a concealed-weapon permit are:
  • You must be at least 21 years of age.
  • You must meet the CITIZENSHIP and RESIDENCY requirements set forth in the law. 
  • You must be able to provide a CERTIFICATE OF COMPLETION from a firearms training class or other acceptable training document that evidences your competency with a firearm. 
  • You must not have a DISQUALIFYING CRIMINAL RECORD or other condition that would make you ineligible for licensure. 
  • You are required to be familiar with Florida law.
Note that you do not need to pass a test proving you understand Florida law, nor a psychological profile to ensure you are stable and safe enough to be entrusted with this weapon of death.   You just need $117, fingerprints and a visit to a pawn shop to have unfettered access to an instant killing machine.  Lest we say again, even if you are punished for breaking the law with your firearm, you can't bring your victim back from the dead!  Which returns us to the original point: allowing ordinary citizens to carry firearms, whether concealed or in plain sight, makes those citizens lethal and deadly in ways that no other law-abiding citizen can be.  A person who can't afford a gun, or doesn't want to carry one, or whose religion prohibits it, should never find themselves in mortal danger because some people around them are packing heat.  There should be more between life and death than hoping the citizen gun owner keeps calm in a crisis.

The second issue is the extension of the "castle doctrine" to "stand your ground."  Over 30 states have some form of a castle law that says you can protect yourself from harm while on your own property without trying first to retreat.  You can shoot a person who comes through your front door to hurt you, rather than first trying to run away to safety and calling 911.  This permission to use of deadly force if you believe you or someone with you are in imminent danger is often argued as justifiable homicde.  Some states extend this right to protect yourself retreat and without fear of prosecution to your car, your business, or in the case of stand-your-ground, anywhere you stand.  Again, one can easily argue that these laws give everyone the right to protect themselves if they feel threatened, which provides equal protection to all citizens.

What happens when the state combines stand-your-ground with the right to carry a deadly weapon?  People die when they didn't need to.  This isn't a legal statement on guilt or innocence of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin.  It is much simpler: if these two laws had not been on the books, Mr. Martin would still be alive.  Chances are good that Mr. Zimmerman would be too.

Stand-Your-Ground and Carry Permits create a combination that has far too great a potential to take innocent lives to be considered safe for the general public.  They create an invasion into the rest of our rights to exercise life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.  They must be changed.

Please, write your lawmakers and explain that the potential to use lethal force in public must only be given out under very special and much-more highly regulated situations.  Share this and ask your friends to do the same.  If you hear back from them, please let us know.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Reprimand the Creationists!

According to the NCSE, the Tennessee Senate has passed SB 893, which encourages teachers to present the "scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses" of "controversial" topics such as "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning."  This is thinly veiled legislation to promote the teaching of "alternative theories" like Creationism and Intelligent Design.  We will talk about the demerits of pseudoscience later.  For now, let's consider what would happen if a national REPRIMAND/Inequality law existed?  

Promoting religious beliefs in public schools is a clear violation of the Separation of Church and State, and you would think this would be enough of an argument to stop proponents of teaching religious dogma in public schools.  Even the briefest perusal of the principles of Intelligent Design make it clear that this is merely pseudoscientific wool on the wolf, but direct appeals to the public under the guise of science continue to lend legitimacy to anti-science legislation like the "monkey bill" in Tennessee.   

When a law inserts issues that belong in the church into the public schools, only a small portion of the public (namely, school children) are being subjected to this invasive legislation.  The REPRIMAND/Inequality law would require that Tennessee SB 893 have an equivalent provision in exchange.  For example, all houses of worship in Tennessee must give up their non-profit and tax-exempt (i.e. 501c3) status and be subject to all state laws regulating businesses.   

We can't reason with people who, by their very nature, do not want to listen to it.  Our political climate is about at the point where we can't stop people from promoting invasive or repressive laws by writing petitions and op-eds either.  The only solution seems to be to strike back in kind and use their own kinds of laws against them.  Please share with your lawmakers that "an eye for an eye" is likely to be the only way to stop the Conservative warpath to social ruin.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Help Missouri Rep. Stacey Newman stop the Rush Limbaugh Statue

Missouri Representative Stacey Newman and a number of her colleagues co-sponsored an anti-vasectomy bill in the state legislature to combat the anti-women legislation being proposed by the GOP.  We wrote to applaud her work, and received this response, and request, to help stop the House Speaker Steve Tilley from erecting a Rush Limbaugh State in the Capitol.  Please see her message below and help fight this GOP/Conservative nonsense?

Thank you so much for your email – it was a joy to hear from you, even if you don’t live in my district. I am just thrilled!

It means a lot that you took the time to find me and write about this horrendous anti-woman agenda that has taken hold of our state legislatures. As you can tell, we progressive women legislators have had enough.  I am COMMITTED to keep at this fight with my colleagues all over the country but we need people like you, encouraging us on.

I ask a favor - Can you help us out in Missouri  by signing the following petition? Over 20,000 have to date and we need Speaker Tilley’s office bombarded.

A Rush Limbaugh Statue in the Missouri Capitol? No. Freaking. Way.
You’re not going believe this:  Missouri House Speaker Steve Tilley is planning to honor Rush Limbaugh in the Missouri Capitol’s “Hall of Famous Missourians” this year. 

Tilley's response to the media today: “I’m sure there are people who are not fans of Rush Limbaugh, but I’m not one of them and I get to make the decision.”
Please  help us STOP this nonsense by signing a petition to Speaker Tilley, Gov. Nixon and other legislators – AND by calling Speaker Tilley’s office – 573.751.1488.


Rep. Stacey Newman
Missouri 73rd House District

Missouri State Capitol
Room 101K
Jefferson City, MO  65101

6340 Clayton Road #206
St. Louis, Missouri 63117

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