Friday, January 31, 2014

PANIC PANIC PANIC –The Republican Establishment is in Full Panic Mode

That’s What Having a Bunch of Brain Dead Candidates Will Do to You

Although they remain hidden, too afraid to speak too loudly lest they offend the extreme crazies in their party, there is an establishment wing of the Republican Party.  These are the people who thought Mitt Romney would make a good candidate and a better President.  These are the people who see New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as the only hope for the Party.  These are people who are just scared to go to sleep at night.

Their first cause of concern is of course the potential demise of Mr. Christie as a viable candidate for the Republican nomination.  Of course he never really was, but to people with sufficient blinders to be Republicans and not notice the extremists in the Party, he was to them.  Consequently all of their guns are focused on the media, whom they portray as piling on for daring to report the facts, just the facts of the GW bridge scandal.  And they are also in full assault mode against the Mayor of Hoboken, who had the audacity to actually document a threat against her and her city to withhold Hurricane Sandy relief funding if she did not support a development project favored by Gov. Christie.

The Republican mantra is "aha, why did she wait so long?"  Of course the answer is that until now a charge by the Mayor of Hoboken would have had no credibility, and would have endangered herself and her city against the retaliation tactics that we all now know the Christie people are capable of.  But if one is to believe the story the Mayor of Hoboken is not true, then one must believe that last spring she made entries in her journal, told people what happened all in the anticipation of revealing this months later.  Yeah right.

Now as previously documented here there is the spectre of Mike Huckabee, who said some of the most outrageous things a person who once ran for public office can ever say.  Here from Kathleen Parker in the Washington Post is the attempt at rescue.

Speaking at the Republican National Committee winter meeting Thursday,Huckabee said it was time to “no longer accept listening to the Democrats talk about a war on women.” Republicans aren’t waging a war on women, he said. “They have a war for women.”

The alleged war on women was based essentially on the notion that people who think abortion is a bad idea — or who don’t think the government should mandate insurance coverage for birth-control coverage — are anti-woman. Democrats point mainly to new state laws that have limited access to abortion, not to mention the unforgettable observations of a few Republican men about “legitimate” rape and so on.

Notice the glossing over of a lot of facts (which as we all  know, facts are biased against Republicans).  For example she neglects to note that it is Republicans who are mandating invasive procedures for women considering an abortion, and it is Republicans who want to control what women can and cannot do with respect to family planning.

And those few men who made such ugly and disgusting comments on rape?  Well she neglects to mention that they were not only elected House members, but also the Republican nominees for the Senate.  This was not just a few weirdo’s, these were the face of the Party.

So now Ms. Parker and others must somehow try to exonerate the un-exoneratable, to excuse and explain this by the aforementioned Mr. Huckabee, a man considered 'likeable'.

“And if the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it, let us take that discussion all across America because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be.”

And so the explanation, Mr. Huckabee just badly misspoke, used a bad choice of words when his ideas and concepts were sound.

What Huckabee was saying was that women are not just packages of reproductive parts whose lives are circumscribed by access to birth control. This is the thinking he ascribes to Democrats. Instead, he said, Republicans are fighting a war for women “to be empowered to be something other than victims of their gender.”
Not bad so far, but then . . . uh-oh.

Uh, uh-oh Ms. Parker, sorry but if you are buying this load of baloney fine, but if you expect anyone else to buy it you need to get back into this universe, not the one where you have to explain what you think conservatives mean when they say what they mean and that is nasty and offensive. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Republican Lamar Alexander Fires Huge Shot at Public Education – Maybe the Atom Bomb

Destroying Public Schools – One Child at a Time

The animosity of Republicans for the nation’s public schools has never been more on display than in a bill proposed by supposedly moderate Republican Senator Lamar Alexander.  On the surface the bill would help low income families provide better education for their children.  In practice if enacted it would deal a huge blow, possibly a death blow to the public school system.

Mr. Alexander proposes to take federal funds aiding public education and give them to low income students who could then use the funds to pay for private schooling.  The impact would be devastating.

Mr. Alexander’s bill would take about $24 billion — or about 41 percent — of current federal spending on elementary and secondary public schools, and allow states to decide whether to give the lowest-income families the money as individual scholarships to pay for private school tuition, or to attend a public school outside the child’s traditional neighborhood zone, or a charter school.

For each eligible child, based on family income, an average of about $2,100 in federal money would be allocated.

The impact of such a law would be

  1. Public education deprived of $24 billion in federal aid, causing many school districts in low income areas to cut back severely on public education, maybe even close.

  1. A small number of students would be enrolled in private schools, while the vast majority of students would be consigned to lower performing public schools.

  1. Massive federal funds going to private schools, many of whom are sponsored by sectarian groups and promote a particular religion.

Of course, this devastation to public school would also be a blow at public school teachers and their unions, long a Republican target.  And if millions of students have to suffer poor education to achieve the Republican goal of a sectarian school system being dominant in America and the loss of any power by teacher’s unions, well so be it.

The message to teachers and their unions here is that this is the culmination of huge mistakes on your part.  Instead of using your clout to have your first priority better education instead of better pay and benefits for teachers, you are achieving neither.  And now it may be too late.  This bill will not become law, but in the future a similar proposal, maybe one directing all federal aid away from the public school system will be come law.

Rand Paul Wins the Race to the Bottom in the 2016 Campaign – Links Hilary Clinton to the Lewinsky Scandal

He’s Right – But Not in the Way He Thinks

One of the features of the 2016 Presidential campaign will be how quickly the Republicans can get down and dirty.  Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, the odds on favorite to win the nomination has staked out the claim for the ugliest comments so far, and even though there are years to go before the actual race, he will be hard to beat with this commentary.

January 26, 2014

Paul Says Hillary Clinton Should Be Judged on Lewinsky

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) suggested that "the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal should give Americans pause when it comes to evaluating the Clinton legacy -- and, by extension, Hillary Clinton's potential presidential campaign," the Washington Post reports.

Said Paul: "One of the workplace laws and rules that I think are good is that bosses shouldn't prey on young interns in their office. And I think really the media seems to have given President Clinton a pass on this. He took advantage of a girl that was 20 years old and an intern in his office. There is no excuse for that, and it is predatory behavior."

He noted that "sometimes it's hard to separate" Bill and Hillary Clinton and then added, "And then they have the gall to stand up and say Republicans are having a war on women? So yes, I think it's a factor. It's not Hillary's fault, but it is a factor in judging Bill Clinton and history."

Senator Paul is of course trying to denigrate Mrs. Clinton by connecting her to a situation she had nothing to do with.  But he does the world a favor by doing this.  Rand Paul reminds everyone of the sturdy character of Ms. Clinton, her strength, her ability to withstand pressure and hardship that most of us, including in particular Rand Paul, would be unable to withstand.  The Lewinsky affair, as far as Ms. Clinton is concerned, simply reminds all of us of her great qualities, something we doubt that Mr. Paul had in mind when he brought up the issue.

And as for Sen. Paul, well by raising this issue he speaks volumes in contrasting himself with Ms. Clinton.  And those volumes all say he fares badly in that comparison, mainly that he comes across as a petty, vindictive and just plain nasty man.  So thanks Rand, your tone deaf comments will do more than anything anyone else can say or do to show you are not fit for the Presidency.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

In North Carolina the Republicans Recently Changed Laws to Permit Guns on Playgrounds

Here's What Happened

North Carolina: Four Shot on Playground

The police in Rocky Mount are searching for a man who sprayed a church playground with gunfire, striking four youths and leaving a 12-year-old boy in critical condition. The Rev. James D. Gailliard at Word Tabernacle Church said the shooting happened Monday as about two dozen teenagers played basketball. It came days after a funeral for a 15-year-old who was hit by gunfire from a car as he walked home.

The Proper Comments on the President's State of the Union Address and the Republican Response

[This space left deliberately blank.]

New York Times Supports Hardened Criminal for Student Body President at UNC Chapel Hill

Emilio Vicente is Not Only a Lawbreaker, He is Gay and Latino – He Should Be Locked Up

The Republicans, or at least some Republicans are struggling with the illegal immigration issue.  This is not because they feel any affinity with the subject.  It is because (1) they fear the electoral consequences of not dealing with the issue and (2) the business community wants this issue settled in favor a providing legal status for those who reside in this nation illegally, but work and contribute.

Emilio in front of the Old Well on campus on Monday. Ted Richardson for The New York Times

Why isn't this man in jail for life?

But surely those Republicans who view any and all illegals as criminals on the same level as Al Capone now have the public on their side after New York Times columnist Frank Bruni has come out with the story of Emilio Vicente, an illegal immigrant, an Hispanic and worst of all, a gay person who is not only enrolled at the University of North Carolina, who is not only a Morehead Scholar (probably the most prestigious of non Ivy League awards) but also has the temerity to be running for Student Body President.

His name is Emilio Vicente. He’s a junior, 22, and a minority three times over: Latino, undocumented and gay. He came to the United States from Guatemala at 6, his mother leading him under barbed wire and into Arizona, as he recalls it. (He remembers the screech of a woman with them whose hair got caught.) And he flourished here, his grades earning him the private scholarship he needed for Chapel Hill, where he’s on this committee, that board, a one-man whirlwind of engagement.

I hung out with him on Sunday, including at a meeting of his campaign team. They took stock of their efforts to meet the Tuesday deadline for 1,250 petition signatures. Emilio was already above 2,000. The election is Feb. 11, with a runoff, if needed, a week later.

His victory would be a milestone, not just locally but perhaps nationally, and it would be a chance, he told me, “to change the narrative of what it means to be undocumented.” It would be a vindication, too, and that’s clear from hiscampaign site. Under the heading “Inspiration,” it says, “My parents for their sacrifices.”

What a terrible thing to happen to the good law abiding citizens of this nation.  And here is the detailed description of the horrific crimes commited by Mr. Vicente and his family.

His dad arrived here illegally in 1992. He and his mom followed in 1997, traveling through Mexico by rail, in a cargo car. “I’m pretty sure it was a cattle train, because I could smell the manure,” he said. From Arizona they made their way to Siler City, N.C., where his father plucked chickens in a big poultry plant. His mother got a job there, too.
“They would come home from work and show me their hands — blistered, pruned,” Emilio remembered. “And they said, ‘You don’t want this.’ ” He buckled down to schoolwork, though it was hard, partly because his parents had little education and almost no English. And he stayed out of trouble, careful not to draw any attention to his family.
Things got tougher still. His father, who had taken a new job in a lumber plant, was paralyzed in an accident there. Homebound, dependent, he returned to relatives in Guatemala, Emilio’s mother beside him. The choice belonged to Emilio, then 15: join them or stay in Siler City with an older brother who had managed to get to America.

So yes Conservatives, the nation supports you.  We support your efforts to arrest and detain Mr. Vicente, to lock him up for years, no trial, no representation, no hope and then deport him.  That is what you want to do, isn’t it?

Pre-High School Athletes Being Recruited by Colleges

Still Don’t Think Sports Has Corrupted Higher Education?

And Why Are Ohio Soccer Players Playing in Florida?

The debasement of college athletics and higher education continues at a growing pace.  Apparently the norm today is for colleges to recruit athletes before they have entered high school, or when they have just entered.

Haley Berg, 15, at home with her sister in Celina, Tex. She accepted a soccer scholarship to Texas four years in advance. Cooper Neill for The New York Times
 There's one childhood lost

In today’s sports world, students are offered full scholarships before they have taken their first College Boards, or even the Preliminary SAT exams. Coaches at colleges large and small flock to watch 13- and 14-year-old girls who they hope will fill out their future rosters. This is happening despite N.C.A.A. rules that appear to explicitly prohibit it.

It turns out it is easy to get around the rules against colleges contacting student athletes this early.  They just contact the high schools who give the contact information to the athletes who then contact the college coaches.

And the practice is rampant.

The early recruiting machine was on display during the Florida tournament, where Haley played alongside hundreds of other teenage girls at a sprawling complex of perfectly mowed fields.

A Sunday afternoon game between 14-year-olds from Texas and Ohio drew coaches from Miami, Arizona, Texas and U.C.L.A. — the most recent Division I national champion. Milling among them was the most storied coach in women’s soccer, Anson Dorrance of North Carolina, who wore a dark hat and sunglasses that made him look like a poker player as he scanned the field.

Gee a soccer tournament in Florida with teams from Texas and Ohio.  What exactly are high schoolers from Texas and Ohio doing playing in Florida?  And obviously the money to support such activity must come out of the education budget.  Spending funds to send the team to Florida, how does that increase math scores?  The Chinese and Indian students must be laughing as they read this.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pete Seeger

Presented Without Comment, But What Can One Say

On second thought, there is this paragraph from the Washington Post on Mr. Seeger song, "If I had a Hammer".  It says more about the enemies of America than this Forum ever could.

It was known in its original form as “The Hammer Song” and did not achieve popularity when the Weavers recorded it. But the lyrics drew the attention of federal investigators who during the 1950s thought that, used in songs, words such as “peace” and “freedom” were codes for left-wing subversives and communists.

Mr. Seeger and The Boss

At the Obama Inaugural

How Stupid Does One Have to Be to Write Opinion Pieces for the New York Times? –

Don't Know, But Ross Douthat Tests The Limits

What is it with conservatives and marriage?  They are obsessed by the idea, obsessed by the fact that married couples seem to lead better lives both economically and socially than unmarried couples or single people, and hence conclude causality where there is none.  They take the position that marriage causes improvement in one’s life.  And so their public policy is based on this obviously false premise.

This leads to nonsensical positions, like this one from New York Times columnist Ross Douthat on the subject of government and marriage.

Meanwhile, no-fault divorce probably contributed to the unexpected “social contagion” effect of the divorce revolution, in which the example of a marital split undermines marriages across a social network. And it created new reasons to delay marriage in the first place, given the risk of investing in a venture that could be unilaterally dissolved.

Many marriages, especially in the upper-middle class, were strengthened by caution and delay. But for couples with more limited resources, and more to lose from failure, no-fault divorce may have reduced the value of the institution and the sacrifices embraced on its behalf.

His point in this tortured rhetoric, no-fault divorce laws and easing the ability to get a divorce reduced marriages.  What an idiot!  By making divorce easier and more available marriages are increased not decreased.  When it was difficult to end a marriage, the incentive was not to get married in the first place.  When it became easier to end an unhappy and unsuccessful marriage, couples became much more likely to enter into marriage. 

This is an obvious position to anyone other than conservatives.  As an example, note how cell phone and TV provides are moving away from locking people into contracts.  They know that one deterrent to signing up for their service is the long term commitment, ease that and more people will come on board.  The same is true for marriage.

Even worse is the policy prescription that people like Mr. Douthat would advocate.

When liberals claim social conservatives don’t have any policy ideas for marriage promotion, then, they’re somewhat self-deceived. A sustained conservative shift on abortion policy and marriage law probably would, over the long term, increase the rate at which couples take vows and stay together, and improve the life prospects of their children.

So one hypothetical middle ground on marriage promotion might involve wage subsidies and modest limits on unilateral divorce, or a jobs programand a second-trimester abortion ban.

Yes, Mr. Douthat and conservatives would use the power of government to force people to say in marriages they wish to dissolve.  This is of course in total violation of the principles of conservatism which says that government should allow people to lead their lives as free as possible of government constraints.  But of course since conservatives have no principles, the utter idiocy, the total hypocrisy and the comprehensive stupidity of this position is lost on them.

And the fact that these same conservatives oppose same sex marriage and the two parent families that children in those marriages would live in just adds additional evidence that when it comes to policy, conservatives would use government to force their beliefs on others.  Conservatives are now just conservative in name only.

In Britain the Fascist Ukip Party is Gaining Popularity

Economic Deprivation Almost Always Leads to This –

Why Won’t Policy Makers Ever Learn?

In Britain the Conservative Party took over the government and promptly instituted a program of austerity to attack the recession.  This of course was silly, stupid and wrong headed.  And while the U. S. took the opposite tack, andhas experienced a slow but steady recovery, in Britain the recovery was delayed by years and is just now gaining strength. 

The recovery in Britain is of course highly uneven.  If one has a job in the banking sector and owns property in London, it is great.  If one is a manufacturing worker or a lesser skilled job seeker, the recovery is non existent.  And when all of this happens ultra right wing fascist type parties gain popularity.  In Britain this is the Ukip Party, a group of Europe hating, immigrant hating, extreme right winger haters.

Ukip emerged as the most popular of all parties, with 27 per cent of voters saying they “liked” Ukip the best. Mr Farage won 22 per cent of support in the poll as most favoured leader, behind Mr Cameron with 27 per cent. Ed Miliband, the Labour leader polled 18 per cent with Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, trailing with 13 per cent.

And the electoral news is worse.

Downing Street is bracing itself for a Ukip surge in the elections, with swaths of their supporters indicating they will vote Ukip. More than a third of voters who supported David Cameron in the 2010 election said they were considering voting for Ukip.

The research by Lord Ashcroft, former Conservative party treasurer and pollster, found that 37 per cent of 2010 Tory voters – the “defectors” – would not support the Tories in an election tomorrow. Half of those said they would shift their support to Ukip.

The Conservative Party must now determine which way to go, adopt offensive right wing policies and rhetoric to appeal to potential Ukip voters, or stand for some principles.  And unlike their U. S. cousins, British Conservatives, at least some of them do have principles.

Lord Ashcroft has urged the party not to be distracted from the task of winning new voters, however.

“Pundits will be preoccupied by how well Ukip do, and at what cost to the Conservatives. But the Tories must keep their eye on the prize.

“Whatever tactical moves they make to minimise losses in an election that many people regard as inconsequential – and therefore an opportunity to cast a cost-free protest vote – must not be at the expense of building a coalition of voters that could give them a majority at Westminster.”

The end result could of course be a fascist government in Britain by the end of this decade.  The blame for such a thing, that austerity economic policy and failure to recognize that economic growth and recovery must benefit all the people, not just the wealthy, in order to promote a sustained recovery and political stability. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Read the New York Times Opinion Piece and Watch the Video on One Low Income Family in America

Then Ask How Cutting Benefits and Denying Contraception Services is a Benefit

Conservatives have inherited the mantle of cruelty.  Espousing long discredited 19th century dogma they argue against benefits for low income families because those benefits harm those families instead of helping them.  They argue against making contraception widely available because that somehow offends them and they argue against making health care affordable because that just means low income people will overuse the system.

A video and short commentary in the New York Times on one single family illustrates the terrible nature of that policy.  Yes this is only one family, but it is representative.  Here is the short summary.

Sarah, the subject of this Op-Doc video, lives in a rural town in western Missouri. She is in 10th grade. For generations almost no one in Sarah’s family has finished high school. Sarah vows that she does not want to follow in those footsteps. But how will her life be different? She became pregnant at 15. Her son will be born in February.

Sarah has six siblings. Her father is estranged from the family and does not contribute financially. Sarah’s mother, Dena Jewell Simental, is often away from home, cleaning houses and caring for the disabled. Supporting her seven children is Dena’s “top priority,” she says. It’s never easy -- when the family has received food stamps, they often haven’t lasted till the end of the month. Sometimes, when bills go unpaid, the electricity and water are shut off or Dena’s phone service is interrupted. But Dena is proud to say, “We are a good family.”

And here is the conclusion of the film makers.

There is a myth in America: if you have a strong moral compass, work hard and make good choices, you will have equal opportunity. But after two years of listening to and documenting low-income families in rural America (for our forthcoming feature-length documentary “Rich Hill”), we have witnessed a starkly unequal playing field.

Often, there is no social safety net. When a low-income family experiences a hardship or makes a misstep, the results can be devastating. Dena’s family is uninsured, so when Sarah and her siblings need medical care, even for something as simple as a rash, it often means a trip to the emergency room.

And then ask conservatives how they can live with the fact that they make the lives of these people more difficult, that their policies bring depravation to lives that are already desperate.  Ask them how denying access to contraception to the subject of the documentary was doing God's work.  And finally ask them how cutting the capital gains tax and reducing the already highly reduced marginal tax rate on wealthy people will help anyone other than wealthy people. Does the fact that Mitt Romney can build yet another house with the money he saved from legal but intolerable tax cuts help Sarah?

No they won't have an answer, but then they don’t need one.  They will not hear the questions.

Trashing of Texas Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Wendy Davis Has Begun –

News Media Piling On Now to Avoid the Spring Rush

It’s no secret that the news media is overly sensitive to criticism of bias by conservatives and that as a result its tries to overcome that criticism by being biased in favor of conservatives.  The treatment of Texas Democrat Wendy Davis who is running for Governor of that state is just another example.  Here is the headline from the supposedly good newspaper, the Washington post.

Wendy Davis admits to fuzzy facts in bio


So what are the horrible lies Ms. Davis has told.  Well after a release of facts from her campaign it appears they consist of this.

But a report in The Dallas Morning News on Sunday said that while her basic biography was accurate, she had blurred some facts. The newspaper said she was 21, not 19, when she divorced, and lived in the mobile home for only a few months while separated from her first husband.  . . .

Ms. Davis’s campaign said Monday that she filed for divorce at age 20 and that the divorce became final when she was 21.

“The truth is that at age 19, I was a teenage mother living alone with my daughter in a trailer and struggling to keep us afloat on my way to a divorce,” Ms. Davis said Monday in a statement. “And I knew then that I was going to have to work my way up and out of that life if I was going to give my daughter a better life and a better future, and that’s what I’ve done.”

In its chronology, the campaign said that Ms. Davis married when she was 18, had her first daughter, Amber, when she was 19, and became a single mother at 19 when she and her first husband separated. 

That’s right, her supposedly terrible lie was that she was only separated from her husband when she was 19, not divorced.  OMG.

But then there is the issue of her mother’s education.

The campaign also said that Ms. Davis’s mother had a ninth-grade, not a sixth-grade, education. It appeared that Ms. Davis had confused the education level of her mother with that of her grandfather, who had not gone beyond the sixth grade.

So there you have, media trashing of a Democrat for saying she was divorced when she was only separated leading to a divorce and for saying her mother had a 6th grade education when it was a 9th grade education. 

The irony of course is that the conservatives will still condemn the media for bias, they can never be satisfied on this issue, not even by the phony reporting of a misleading bio of a Democrat that did not happen.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Failure of Education Systems in Europe Leads to Widespread Unemployment Amidst Demand for Tech Workers

Government Fails Europeans in Many Ways

Conservatives complain that government is part of the problem not part of the solution.  To the extend that governments fail to provide basic services and successfully complete their mission, this charge is true, but of course those failures are largely the result of conservative policies.  Conservatives in Europe have moved to restrict and reduce government, to the detriment of all.

So the news in Europe as far as employment is concerned is that the labor force, for lack of education and training does not have the skills to fill the job openings.

There is just one hitch: Not enough people are qualified to fill all the jobs. In some cases, the companies have had to look outside Ireland to recruit candidates with the right skills.

After a five-year economic crisis, the mismatch represents one of the thorniest problems facing Ireland and many other European countries. Hundreds of thousands of people who lost work, and many young people entering the work force, are finding that their skills are ill suited to a huge crop of innovation-based jobs springing up across the Continent.

“In all countries, there is an expectation that many of the new jobs created will be in the knowledge-intensive economy,” said Glenda Quintini, a senior labor economist at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. “But we are seeing a worrisome skills mismatch that means a large number of unemployed people are not well prepared for the pool of jobs opening up.”

So why is this the fault of government?  Because government has the role of educating and training the work force.  And in Europe the policy makers made a terrible misjudgment.  The felt that the economy would respond to austerity, which as anyone who has gotten a C or better in Econ 101 knows was the wrong policy. 

But not to worry, all those policy makers and government officials who have visited huge misery on the populace still have their comfortable high paying jobs.

Uh Oh – New Mexico Republican Congressman Steve Pearce Lets Slip What Republicans Really Think the Role of Women Should Be

Conservatives Get Into Trouble When They Say What They Really Believe

In the wake of Mitt Romney’s loss in the 2012 election Republicans have reacted by trying to build their credentials with women.

Democrats in recent years have repeatedly attacked Republicans for their views on and comments about women's issues, particularly when it comes controversial comments made by GOP candidates. Mitt Romney suffered from one of the biggest so-called "gender gaps" in recent history in the 2012 election -- an election in which two GOP Senate candidates might have cost their party a seat because of comments about rape and pregnancy.

Since that election, GOP leaders have sought to coach their members on how to be more sensitive when talking about women's issues.

Uh sorry Republicans, it ain’t working.

Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) when he won his congressional seat in 2010. (AP)
Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) when he won his congressional seat back in 2010. (AP)
One of the few times he didn't make his wife stand behind him, head bowed
in obedience
A Republican member of Congress says in a recently released book that a wife is to "voluntarily submit" to her husband, but that it doesn't make her inferior to him.

Rep. Steve Pearce's (R-N.M.) memoir, "Just Fly the Plane, Stupid!" was released last month. Its publication -- and his acknowledgment in the book of the controversial nature of the submission debate -- come as the Republican Party reevaluates how it talks to and about women.

In the book, Pearce recounts his rise to owning an oil-field service company and winning election to Congress. In the book, the Vietnam War veteran says that both the military chain of command and the family unit need a structure in which everyone plays his or her role.

He said that, in his family's experience, this meant that his wife, Cynthia, would submit to him and he would lead.

"The wife is to voluntarily submit, just as the husband is to lovingly lead and sacrifice," he writes, citing the Bible. "The husband’s part is to show up during the times of deep stress, take the leadership role and be accountable for the outcome, blaming no one else."

Mr. Pearce can expect to feel the wrath of other Republicans, not because they disagree with what he is saying, but because he is not supposed to let that particular cat out of the bag.  After all, how can Conservatives keep pretending to care about women and women’s issues if people like Mr. Pearce keep saying what they really think. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Corruption Charges Against Former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell Have Nothing to do With Conservatives

It is Just Sleaze, Plain and Simple

That the federal government has indicted former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife was no surprise.  For months the details of the scurrilous behavior of this man and his spouse have been trickling out.  But with the indictment comes the details that would make even the most ardently partisan Republican cringe.

The McDonnell’s apparently do not dispute the facts, that they hit up a wealthy businessman for numerous personal favors and money.  This included Mrs. McDonnell making the businessman pay for a Rolex for her husband, using the private plane of the businessman, having him pay for the catering for their daughter’s wedding, taking Mrs. McDonnell on a shopping trip and a whole bunch of other stomach churning stuff.

And Mr. McDonnell’s defense is not that he and his wife didn’t do these things.  His defense is that gosh, everyone does this and furthermore what they did was not illegal.  The former statement is false in its intensity.  Yes, politicians do what the McDonnell’s did, but they almost always show restraint and tact and limit their exploitation of those who would seek favors from government to at least quasi legitimate actions.

As for the argument that what they did was not illegal, maybe so, that will be for a court to determine.  If the businessman did not get anything in return, no harm no foul except for the stench of sleaze.  But the businessman in question did get plenty of help and support from officials of Virginia at the behest of the Governor.  And that businessman will testify in a trial.  So yes, the chances of conviction of Mr. McDonnell and his wife while not certain are hopefully better than 50-50.

And now the final smell of the rotten behavior of Mr. McDonnell has come to light, his rejection of an incredibly favorable plea bargain.

Maureen McDonnell relayed to federal prosecutors last summer that she felt responsible forthe relationship with a wealthy businessman that had drawn legal scrutiny to Virginia’s first family, and her attorney asked whether the case could be resolved without charges for her husband.

But prosecutors showed no interest, according to people familiar with the conversation. Instead, months later, authorities proposed that then-Gov. Robert F. McDonnell plead guilty to one felony bank fraud charge that had nothing to do with corruption in office and his wife would avoid charges altogether. The governor rejected the offer, the people with knowledge of the conversations said.

Wow, any decent man, any even half decent man would have leapt at the opportunity spare his wife the ignominy of an indictment and trail.  In fact, had such a bargain been accepted Mr. McDonnell would have been praised for sparing his wife the indignity of a trial, and the prosecution lambasted for giving them such an easy out.  But Mr. McDonnell is of course not even half decent so he rejected the opportunity to spare his wife this hardship and possible jail time.  The court of public opinion has already determined that, regardless of what any court of law may say this is a terrible, terrible couple.

It is clear that the defense strategy of the McDonnell's will be that Mrs. McDonnell is not guilty of betraying public office because she was not an elected official (she is brought into the case under conspiracy laws) and that Mr. McDonnell is not guilty because he didn't know anything, or in other words that he was the most clueless, naive, oblivious Governor ever to be elected in the state.  This will mean that Mrs. McDonnell will have to testify and undergo that stress and strain while Mr. McDonnell sits calmly in the court saying nothing.  So the Governor is not only throwing his wife under the bus, he is getting in the driver's seat and backing over her several times.

Finally, one of the great mysteries of the 2012 campaign was the failure of Mitt Romney to pick Gov. McDonnell as his running mate.  In fact one of the many egregious errors this Forum made was predicting just such a thing.  And while no one will ever no for sure what the true story was, it seems almost certain that the Romney campaign knew of the sleaze factor with respect to the Governor, knew that he was a man so lacking in personal integrity that his choice as the VP nominee would have made even Democrats long for the return of Sarah Palin.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Mike Huckabee Joins the Growing Republican Chorus Denigrating Women

And What is Harvard Doing Here

Republicans are trying to improve their image with American women, a majority of whom seem to despise what the Republican Party stands for with respect to gender issues.  Mike Huckabee, a former Governor of Arkansas, a former and possibly would be Presidential candidate and a conservative commentator ain’t helping.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee accused Democrats Thursday of encouraging women to rely on the government for help in controlling their “libido” and said Republicans have been wrongly accused of waging a “war on women.”

“If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or reproductive system without the help of the government, so be it,” he said. “Let us take that discussion all across America.”

Gosh, is ignorance and stupidity and plain old offensiveness on gender issues in the Republican Party contagious?  It used to be that a minority of the GOP held these ugly views, now it appears that the number is growing and maybe it is a majority.  Or maybe Republicans are just tired of trying to pretend to be rational on this issue.

Finally, there is this bizarre observation.

Huckabee, who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2008 and has indicated he’s weighing a 2016 bid, will be a visiting fellow at Harvard this semester.

Harvard is not embarrassed enough by having given Ted Cruz a law degree?  It's nice that Harvard wants a plethora of views, but should intelligence and rational thinking be a qualification of whom they invite on their campus?  If they just want a bunch of yahoos are there better ones than Mike Huckabee?

Looking to Get Shot and Killed For Doing Nothing More Thank Walking Through a Neighborhood or Going to the Movies

Visit the Sunshine State – But Buy a One Way Ticket

After George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin for doing nothing more than walking through Mr. Zimmerman’s neighborhood and after Mr. Zimmerman was exonerated in a trial, it became clear that in Florida one can carry a gun and shoot people at will. 

Need further proof?  Here is the story of Curtis Reeve who feels he has the right to carry his 380 caliber gun into a movie theater.

WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. — There’s a sticker on the door of the Grove 16 Theater just outside Tampa: no weapons.
Curtis J. Reeves Jr. must have walked right past it on Jan. 13 when he went to a matinee with his wife, carrying a .380 handgun.

So why carry a gun to a movie?  Why to shoot and kill someone who is texting about his sick child.  Gosh, why even ask?  

Curtis J. Reeves Jr. appearing
via video conference before
a judge on Jan. 14, the day
after he shot and killed
Chad W. Oulson.
 Pool photo by Brendan Fitterer

“He always had
 a smile on his face,” said
 Bill Costas, his next-door
 neighbor in Brooksville,
 a small town 55 miles
 north of Tampa.
 “He is always very decent
and very kind to my
 wife and myself.”

Just a great guy who
kills people who text
before the movie starts

Why?  Because he can

In front of Mr. Reeves was Chad W. Oulson, 43, of Land O’ Lakes, Fla., a finance manager at a local motorcycle dealership. Mr. Oulson was a 6-foot 4-inch motorcycle enthusiast, whose 22-month-old daughter, Alexis, was at home with a babysitter and not feeling well. So Mr. Oulson defied technology etiquette and texted the sitter. The light from his phone was visible in the semidarkness.
Mr. Cummings remembers Mr. Reeves kicking the seat in front of him.

“He was agitated,” Mr. Cummings said.

Mr. Reeves asked Mr. Oulson to quit texting. Mr. Oulson kept at it, explaining that he was just communicating about a preschooler. Mr. Reeves left in a huff to get a manager, but he returned alone.

Mr. Oulson complained about being tattled on, and the two men exchanged more words. The words got louder. That’s when Mr. Oulson made what would turn out to be a fatal move.

“He stood up,” said Joseph Detrapani, a friend of Mr. Oulson’s, who heard the story later. “That was it.”
This was a boutique theater with rows of large seats that are elevated from one another, with a foot and a half of legroom between them. Mr. Oulson turned to face Mr. Reeves and swung the popcorn bag at his side; kernels struck Mr. Reeves’ face.

Mr. Reeves, a co-founder of the Tampa Police Department’s first tactical response team, reacted. Struck in the face by what he told police was a “dark object,” he reached for his .380 and fired, just as his son, Matthew, also a police officer, entered the theater. Mr. Oulson’s wife, Nicole, had placed her hand on her husband’s chest and was struck in the finger.

Will Mr. Reeves get away with this.  This is Florida, do you really have to ask.

His lawyer, Richard Escobar, said Mr. Reeves, who is charged with second-degree murder, acted in self-defense. He suggested that Mr. Reeves was hit in the face with something other than popcorn, and had every right to defend himself with deadly force.

Mr. Escobar in court described his client as a person who attends Bible study and has been married to the same woman since 1967. Mr. Reeves, he said, was a commander in the Police Department for almost 17 years and has health problems including bursitis and respiratory ailments.
“He has been protecting the community from individuals that do commit crimes,” Mr. Escobar told the judge at a bond hearing last week.

Mr. Escobar has said that because of his age, Florida law supports Mr. Reeves’ self-defense claim. In Florida, a misdemeanor assault against anyone 65 or older is a felony. And in Florida, a person who has a reasonable fear of great bodily injury or death is not obligated to retreat.

The gun lobby is of course celebrating this as we speak, to them Mr. Reeves is just another hero in the fight against people being safe from killers who legally carry guns and who think they have the legal right to gun anyone down.

As for Mr. Reeves, his thought process was likely that he was not only entitled to carry a gun, he wanted to carry a gun, and he wanted to shoot someone.  Maybe that's not the case, but if not, why carry a gun when all one does is go to the movies?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Local Republican Candidate in Florida Celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by Calling for the Lynching of President Obama

And Another Republican Calls Him Out

This Forum generally ignores the rantings and ravings by Republican candidates for local and state offices.  The problem is there is just too many lunatics to comment on, and most of are such minor petty people that they are not worth the space or the electrons.  But one situation in Florida has captured our attention for what might be a new low in politics by conservatives.  The subject, the hanging of President Obama.

ST. PETERSBURG — As Americans honored the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, a Republican candidate for Florida House District 68 said President Barack Obama should be hanged for war crimes.
"I'm past impeachment," Joshua Black wrote on Twitter. "It's time to arrest and hang him high."
Fighting back against this was another Republican, much to her credit.

"You aren't seriously calling for the killing of Obama are you?" Latvala replied. "I know you are crazy but good heavens. U R an embarrassment."
Latvala added: "I make it my business when so called GOP candidates become an embarrassment to my beloved party."

Ms. Latvala must be pretty busy, because there are a lot of Republican candidates who are an embarrassment not just to the Party but to everyone.

And how ignorant is Mr. Black?

Hours after the tweet, Black defended his comment. Obama should be held responsible for ordering a drone strike that killed a U.S. citizen overseas, he said.
"He should be executed for treason," Black said. "I think the appropriate punishment is death. They killed Benedict Arnold. (Obama) shouldn't be allowed to kill Americans without a trial."

Uh no Mr. Black, they did not kill Benedict Arnold.  He served in the British Army after he changed sides in the Revolutionary War and continued to serve well after that war was over. He lived out his life in Britain as a somewhat honored person.

Of course, if you weren’t an incredibly ignorant person you would know that. 

In Virginia Newly Elected Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe is in For a Harsh Lesson

No Terry, Republicans Are Not Interested in Helping You Govern

The news in the state of Virginia this past fall was that the state responded to the Republicans nominating a bunch of hardline conservatives by electing Democrats to every statewide office.  And the news recently is that the newly elected Governor, Terry McAuliffe is starting out in a bi-partisan manner.

Mr. McAuliffe's Inauguration - In the stands are all the Republicans who will work with him.

With moderate Cabinet picks and an ardent courtship of Republicans, the colorful former Democratic National Committee chairman and political fundraiser has projected an image of seriousness, caution and bipartisanship that critics had doubted he could muster.

His deliberate approach appears meant to win over skeptics in both parties who dismissed him as a flamboyant Washington insider with no interest or experience in state politics before his failed bid for governor four years ago. He especially needs to woo Republicans if he wants to get his priorities through a GOP-dominated House and a Senate where control is in flux.

“I was expecting it was going to be crazy liberals and political hacks,” Del. David B. Albo (R-Fairfax) said of McAuliffe’s Cabinet appointees. “And I have been very surprised — pleasantly surprised — that he really seems to be appointing people who know what they are doing, who are mainstream, who know how to run a government, who’ve been in the job before. So, pretty impressed.”

And so Republicans are acting pleased, with the emphasis on the acting.  The Republicans in the Virginia legislature are “burn the state down, the hell with government” conservatives.  They will attack and thwart Gov. McAuliffe at every turn, no matter how much he tries to placate them, no matter how many Republicans he brings into his administration, no matter how reasonable and considerate he is. 

Mr. Obama took years to learn what Republicans are really up to, it will be interesting to see if Mr. McAuliffe can do better.  So far, pretty doubtful.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Incredible – Someone Made a Full Feature Length Movie on the Mitt Romney and His Campaign for the Presidency

And It Inadvertently Reveals Why Mitt Failed

For reasons totally unknown and likely to remain so, a documentary film maker was allowed to film the private moments of Mitt Romney and his campaign.  The movie will be shown on Netflix, and the author of this Forum will join hundreds of millions of Americans who will not watch it.  The reason for not seeing this is nicely summed up by Maureen Dowd of the New York Times.

SALT LAKE CITY — IT’S hard to imagine anything more painful than going through the presidential campaign all over again with Mitt Romney.
Unless it’s going through two presidential campaigns with Mitt Romney.

But from the reviews apparently the film shows a human side of Mr. Romney, one that the campaign was never ever able to demonstrate.

Film Gives a Peek at the Romney Who Never Quite Won Over Voters

Greg Whiteley, who directed "Mitt," with Mitt Romney at the film's premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday in Utah. George Frey/European Pressphoto Agency

. . .

The documentary offers a more personal, quirky and human side of Mr. Romney than often came through during his campaigns.
At one point, Mr. Romney’s oldest son, Tagg, and some other Romney kin pushed for Mr. Whiteley to release his movie during the 2012 campaign. “But there were people on the team who did not want it to come out,” Tagg Romney said, adding that he thought it would have helped if voters had seen his father through “an unfiltered lens.”
So why couldn’t Mr. Romney’s own highly paid team of strategists conjure the same three-dimensional man whom Mr. Whiteley seems to capture so well?
“It’s one of the challenges of modern politics, which is ‘How do you communicate who the candidate is and what they really believe, in the short time period you have?’ ” Mr. Romney said in an interview late Friday after watching the film here for the first time.

Okay, why does that statement, like almost everything else Mr. Romney said in public ring false?  Because in his case there was no ‘short period.  Mr. Romney started running for the Presidency in 2006.  He had six years in which to present his persona to the public.  What you saw was what was there.

The explanation here of the failure of Mr. Romney in public life is that Mr. Romney never ever had any core beliefs except that Mr. Romney was destined and deserved public office and that whatever he had to say or do was okay, since he was entitled to be Senator, Governor and President.  So if Mr. Romney had to campaign as a liberal in running for the Senate, so be it.  If he had to govern as a problem solver and introduce revolutionary health care reform in Massachusetts, fine.  If he had to jettison those positions to run for President, no problem, in fact why would anyone question that?

So Mr. Romney was and is a person with no core, no dedication, no real belief in anything.  And it is that reason, not the problems of campaigning that did him in.  Mr. Romney’s campaign revealed truly what he was, an empty suit.