Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Shock and Despair


After the initial shock and subsequent despair for this country, I gave some thought to why this  happened. Poor Hillary, she did not deserve this. It does show that if lies are repeated enough times, people start to believe them. She has had this all her political life. And then came the Trump  madman. His calling her "crooked Hillary"  again and again without any evidence then led to his saying in a debate not only that she should be in jail but that, as President, he himself would have his Attorney General find her guilty (of what?). It is ironic that he himself was 100 times more guilty of everything and more that he accused her of. 

OK, but then she was still on the road to winning easily, but the anti-Hillary conspiracy began to really gel. First there was the hacking of her emails by the Russians and the slow feeding of Julian's Wikileaks monster to leak the hacked emails slowly to the press, with madman Trump actually asking the Russians to find her "missing" emails. And it is highly likely that  the Russian masters of these hackers made subtle modifications of selected emails. But amazingly Hillary was still leading in all polls. Then came the coup de Gras in the form of the FBI Director, James Comey. What he did can best be explained by copying a Newsweek essay by Kurt Eichenwald:

James Comey should not simply be fired as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He must be barred forever from any form of public service. In the last 10 days, Comey has whipsawed the election for president of the United States. Now we know he did it for no reason. When his agents found information that suggested there were emails on a laptop that might have relevance to the investigation of Hillary Clinton and her email servers, Comey did not wait until he knew even a scintilla of information before announcing it to the world. Reasonably, lots of voters assumed there must be a there there—who could imagine a person with the power of the FBI director would turn the election on its head for no particular reason, on the basis of nothing?
Then, Sunday, Comey handed down another missive from on high: Never mind. His agents had looked through the emails and decided they were piffle. His majesty, the FBI director, has not yet deigned to officially inform his subjects—the American people—whether the emails related to the Clinton case or what they were. (However, people involved in the case tell Newsweek that almost all of them were duplicates of what the bureau already had or were personal.) He just said “nothing to see here” and waived us on our way.
Well, forget it, Jim. We’re not moving on. America has just witnessed one of the most—if not the most—egregious abuses of power in the service of one man’s ego in its history. Joseph McCarthy and A. Mitchell Palmer at least believed they were fighting a Communist threat. Richard Nixon, in Watergate, at least had the motive of retaining power and covering up wrongdoing. But Comey—who I do not believe did this for partisan reasons—has no such motive. This was about him, about preserving his now forever-destroyed reputation, about preening with his self-satisfied standing as a maverick who acts based on what he thinks is right, regardless of others’ opinion. But there is a very thin line between being independent and being reckless. And Comey has demonstrated he does not know the difference.
Before launching into a full Comey tear-down, a few facts must be understood. The FBI is an investigative arm of the Department of Justice. Nothing more, nothing less. An extremely small minority are lawyers, or even have basic legal training. They do not—thank God—decide who gets indicted and who doesn’t. Prosecutors run criminal cases and direct the agents. As many prosecutors have told me over the years, there is almost never an instance where agents who have been investigating a case for months do not recommend for prosecution. Tunnel vision is one reason; the fact that agents rise in the ranks by delivering cases that lead to prosecution is another. That is why prosecutors—and through them, grand juries—make the decision to charge or not. They both serve as a backstop to agents who don’t know the law and have no ability to objectively review their own evidence.
This is why all this nonsense pushed by the Fox Newses of the world has been so deceptive: Screaming “the agents wanted to indict” is on par with “the fish wants to swim.” More important—if any agents really did say these things—they are unfit for the bureau; they must be found and fired immediately for this separate abuse of power.
What that means is, if the FBI does not even conclude it has enough evidence to write a memo recommending prosecution to the Justice Department, there is simply nothing there. Assuming someone committed a crime when the FBI concludes the evidence obtained in the investigation is not worth turning over to prosecutors is like assuming it must be raining when the skies are clear.
The FBI is never supposed to comment on ongoing investigations and, except in exceptional circumstances, never disclose whether it has or has not recommended prosecution. Instead, on indictment, prosecutors stand up at a press conference, announce the charges, then thank the agents and offices of the FBI who conducted the investigation. If the bureau does not develop enough evidence to merit even a recommendation for prosecution, in those exceptional circumstances where it says anything, those are the words officials use: We have not developed evidence that merits a recommendation for prosecution.
In the last few months, unfortunately, Comey has demonstrated he understands none of this. He has broken these rules time and again, leaving himself in the position where he decided he had to break them a couple of more times. He has acted with a lack of accountability that has not been seen since J. Edgar Hoover held the post. It is unforgivable.
Comey came into the job as FBI director having been a federal prosecutor and the deputy attorney general in the George W. Bush administration. As anyone who has met him knows, he prizes his reputation for integrity and as one who rises above politics. In fact, he prizes it a little too much. And that is what even his allies in government are saying led to his disastrous decisions in recent months. Like Icarus, driven by hubris, he chose to fly too close to the sun and now has fallen into a sea of near-universal public contempt.
The signs of Comey’s coming downfall showed up quickly. In fact, the event that led to his golden reputation as a man of integrity, when viewed through in the context of everything Comey has done in his time as FBI director, looks quite different. He was cheered when the public learned that, while in the role of acting attorney general at a time when his boss, John Ashcroft, was in the hospital, he refused to sign a document authorizing the continuation of a warrantless wiretapping program used as part of the Bush administration’s counterterrorism efforts. Lots of drama surrounded the event, with Comey—in his later retelling of the story to Congress—as the hero. But in truth, by behaving as if only he knew the truth of the law, Comey burnished his reputation but changed nothing. A couple of fixes were made to the program, and he signed the authorization later.
Plenty of people in Washington knew of Comey’s self-infatuation and predicted it would lead to the exact kind of problem born of his arrogance that has convulsed the country for more than a week. In fact, shortly after he was nominated for FBI director, the Daily Beast quoted an unidentified Justice Department official saying these frighteningly prescient words: “If past is prologue, something will happen in the context of a legal, policy, or operational disagreement where Jim may get on the high horse and threaten to resign or take some other action unless things go the way he believes they should.” When he wanted to issue the now-famous first letter, the attorney general and everyone else consulted in the Justice Department said it was against policy and advised him not to do it. But Comey ignored everyone.
That’s the way it has been throughout Comey’s tenure at FBI. When the Obama administration adopted a policy of cutting down on mandatory minimum sentences, Comey stepped up to the microphones to declare the president wrong. Such sentences, he proclaimed, are helpful in developing cooperating witnesses. (In fact, there is no evidence to support Comey’s statement—mandatory minimums do nothing to persuade potential witnesses to cooperate. He just said it because he thought it was true.)
That was the same standard he used later in talking what was called the “Ferguson effect,” a term used to describe the idea that subjecting police to greater oversight and scrutiny increases the chance that they will be murdered. Not only is there no evidence supporting the idea, it has been thoroughly disproven. Yet Comey advances the idea as gospel based again on nothing but his personal beliefs. He was even urged to stop at a White House meeting, but as always, Comey felt certain he knew best, and continued spewing this falsehood.
Then came the time when the FBI needed to gain access to an iPhone that belonged to the extremists who committed an attack in San Bernardino, California, in 2015. Comey was told that an administration-wide encryption program was under development that would be harmed if he pushed Apple. He ignored the White House and the Pentagon and, in an action that thwarted the government encryption effort, demanded that Apple be forced to unlock the phone.
Time and again, Comey did what Comey wanted to do—regardless of the advice, regardless of what others thought, regardless of whether his arguments had no evidence supporting them. This all came to a head, though, with the investigation of Clinton’s use of a personal email server.
When the FBI concluded its investigation with the decision not to recommend charges, that was all any professional in the position of FBI director would say. There are many reasons for that—primarily, that is the extent of the bureau’s job. It is not an arbiter of morality or competence. More important, if the bureau goes further, both the powerful and powerless are in no position to argue the facts. A sentence that starts with the words “The FBI says…” is almost sacrosanct because of its history in the last number of decades of self-control.
Comey did none of these things. Instead, in an action that horrified many officials who have worked in Republican and Democratic administrations, Comey held a press conference where he blathered on and on about his personal opinions and presented details—sometimes incorrectly—about the investigation. He consulted with none of his colleagues, not even the attorney general. And while he proclaimed he would not be recommending prosecution, he excoriated Clinton for her use of the private email server—a statement that was totally beyond his role. He later told Congress that no prosecutor could ever make a case against her based on the evidence—words that should have cheered Clinton partisans, but which again were horrific. Comey does not speak for prosecutors. The arrogance reflected in that one statement was astonishing.
Then, Comey went further. He opened up the Clinton investigative files and had them posted online. This act was again unprecedented, unnecessary and unexplained. Put simply, Comey was out of control. He was acting under all his own rules—calling press conferences, absolving Clinton, condemning her, speaking for prosecutors, dumping FBI files online—and seemed to be making them up as he went along.
His recklessness opened him up to even more criticism from Republicans. Had he simply made the usual statement about no referral, there would have been nothing else to review. But with his endless proclamations and document dumps, he opened himself and the FBI for more criticism as people with no training in investigations or law—but plenty of interest in politicizing the FBI—picked through everything he said and every scrap of paper to scream that the only reason Clinton wasn’t indicted was because of politics. So much information had been placed in the public record by Comey that no one in the public could tell what was a manipulation of the facts and what was real.
Of course, despite all the outcry, Comey did not consider the possibility he had made a mistake. In a message to his employees in September, first reported by CNN, Comey tersely proclaimed that Jim Comey had been right about everything, if he did say so himself. “I’m OK if folks have a different view of the investigation (although I struggle to see how they actually could, especially when they didn’t do the investigation), or about the wisdom of announcing it as we did (although even with hindsight I think that was the best course),” Comey wrote.
Then came late October. Agents had been investigating allegation that former Congressman Anthony Weiner sent illicit, sexual text messages to an underage girl in North Carolina. As part of the inquiry, those agents seized a laptop and eventually discovered emails on it potentially related to the Clinton case. (Huma Abedin, a senior Clinton aide, is the estranged wife of Weiner, and it is her emails that were found on his laptop.) About a week after they had obtained the device, the agents told Comey about their find late on Thursday, October 27.
The emails had not been reviewed. No one reached out to either Weiner or Abedin to obtain permission to review them. No one tried to get a warrant. Literally, the bureau knew next to nothing. But still, the day after he was briefed, with no further information, Comey sent his letter announcing the non-development to Congress. The letter was vague and almost incomprehensible, leaving it to the politicians and reporters to fill in the blanks.
With Democrats reeling and Republicans declaring the announcement as proof that Clinton was about to be indicted, calls came from every side of the political spectrum that he provide more information. But once again, Comey stood firm, telling his employees at the FBI that—shock of shocks—he was right and everyone else was wrong. “There is a significant risk of being misunderstood,” Comey told the bureau employees in the communication, explaining why he was so vague in his letter to Congress. “It would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record. At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression.”
Please. As any fifth grader not suffering under the weight of Comey’s ego could know immediately, saying next to nothing created a tremendously misleading impression. The numbers tell the ugly story. According to the prime political statistics site, FiveThirtyEight, Clinton’s probability of victory collapsed in the aftermath of Comey’s letter, falling from 85 percent to 65 percent in just a few days. Polls in Senate races changed. And throughout Comey’s week of silence, millions of people cast their votes. I personally know several people who changed their votes because of Comey’s letter—some to Trump but some to Clinton because they thought Comey was engaged in Hoover-like corruption of the FBI.
A huge swath of the public now thinks the FBI is a completely political organization: A large number of Democrats, because of the original letter followed by a week’s worth of leaks from other agents about other investigations, are convinced that the bureau is manipulating the election for the Republicans and cannot be trusted. Meanwhile, plenty of Republicans are arguing that Comey’s newest findings can’t possibly be true and that he caved to pressure from the Democrats. In other words, no matter what side of the political spectrum anyone is on, they agree that the FBI is political.
It’s not. Unfortunately, though, it is led by a man who finally outsmarted himself with his own arrogance. He has done more damage to the reputation of the FBI than any director since the Nixon administration. Comey will, without doubt, be listed as second only to Hoover as the worst director to ever hold the office because of his willingness to abuse his power.
Fixing the damage Comey inflicted on the FBI will take a long time. So long as a man is in charge who thinks he’s always right and cares more his personal reputation than his duty, the repairs cannot begin. Comey must be fired. But let’s wait until November 9.

Well, today is November 9, the worst has happened and now Comey will most likely never be even reprimanded  by the Tea Party Republicans still in power in the House and Senate. In fact he will probably be promoted by the presumptive new Attorney General, Rudi Guliani. Sad and horrifying at the same time.


Saturday, October 8, 2016

A Double-Wow Discovery



I rate science discoveries by the “wow” scale and I feel that this is at least a “double wow” discovery.

A second earth-like exoplanet has been discovered only four light years away (25 trillion miles), which is one of the closest star systems to earth. The planet is in an 11 day orbit around the red dwarf star, Proxima Centauri b. The mass of this planet is around 1.3 times that of earth and the planet appears  to be rocky. Even though it is closer to its star than mercury is to the sun, the star is cool enough that the surface temperature of the planet would allow the presence of liquid water, that is, it lies in the “Goldilocks” region. The study of this planet is just beginning and of course there will be an intense search for the possible presence of alien life. 

Incidentally, the Alpha Centauri system is the planned target of the “StarShot” project of Steven Hawking, Freeman Dyson and others which will involve large numbers of very small space craft (nano-crafts) that will be powered by meter-sized “LightSails” only a few hundred atoms thick driven by 100 gigawatt lasers on earth to 20% of the speed of light, allowing the 4.37 light years flight to be accomplished in 20 years. The data obtained would take 4 years to return to earth. 

This initially has the appearance of insanity, but  the list of experts is  very impressive and the Director will be Pete Worden,  the ex-director of Ames Research Laboratory.

And of course Hawking will make sure that the spacecraft do  not have a return address, so as to avoid the possibility that the aliens are intentionally or non-intentionally malevolent.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Highlights (or lowlights) of Republican Convention June 19, 2016




Yesterday was a big day for delectable highlights of Republican stupidity. Here are  a few:

- Melania Trump gives a  major speech and a journalist, Jarret
Hill, rapidly discovered that multiple lines were plagiarized
almost verbatim from, would you believe, Michelle Obama in a
2008 speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Trump's surrogates responded with incredible absurdities: 

Katerina Pierson: She rejected the idea that part of the
speech was taken from Michelle's speech because these are just
words for Republican values and Michelle Obama did not invent
the English language. (And a thousand monkeys can write a
Shakespearean play).

Paul Manafort, Trump's Campaign Manager:Denied that the
relevant parts of the two speeches are the same since these are
just common words and value. "To think that she'd be cribbing
Michelle Obama's words is crazy." (Put crazy on top of that).

The former Trump aide, Corey Lewandowski, said that
Melania is not a native English speaker and relied on other
people to make sure the speech was right. However, Melania
said that she wrote her speech herself with as
little help as possible.

New Jersey Governor, Chris Christy,said that "Ninty-
three percent of the speech was original."  (Duh!)

Rep. Joe Wilson ( the "You Lie" man), said that it was
meant as a compliment to quote a First Lady.

Alex Castellanos, a Trump pundit, said that it is hard
to stay organized when writing a speech. (Somehow Micelle's
speech was sitting around and the pages got mixed up.)

     And "Morning Joe" says that three different reporters
say that Manfort claims that Melania herself is the one that
added Michelle's words to the speech.

Mississippi ex-Governor, Haley Barbour ("Boss Pig"),
suggested that the Trump campaign actually planned the
plagiarism to draw more attention to the message of the
plagiarized words - that Michelle had said that Barack
Obama would do these things and did not.

The Trump Campaign actually blamed Hillary Clinton's
campaign for the plagiarism. Manafort said that when a woman
threatens Hillary Clinton, she seeks to demean her and take her
down. (Wow!!!).

And finally the coup de grace for Melania was the
discovery that she had claimed in her Biography that in her
20's she earned a University degree in Architecture in Slovenia,
but the truth is that she dropped out of college after her
freshman year. (I actually feel sorry for Melania. Stephen Colbert
said that Trump should have kept the box Melania
came in so he could send her back when she turns 51).

Please note that I have not even mentioned what was actually 
said in the speeches. Well, OK, I will mention a few winners:

        The over the hill TV actor, Scott Baio, tweeted a picture of
Hillary Clinton standing in front of a wall with the word,
"count" on it, and her head blocked out the letter "O". Baio
said that it was just a picture.

        Trump was on the telephone with Fox News precisely when the
grieving deranged  mother was speaking about Bengazi.

         Rep. Steve King was on a panel with Chris Hayes where he
claimed that Western civilization was created by white Christian
people. This led to the meeting breaking up and Chris
Hayes having to apologize to people for King's white supremacy
comments. (King is only surpassed by his close friend, Louie Gohmert.
Trump never apologizes).

    Tony Schwartz, the man who ghostwrote "The Art of the Deal "
for Trump said he "put lipstick on a pig". He said that if Trump
wins and  gets the nuclear codes, it may lead to the end of
civilization (that is, if climate warming does not accomplish
this first).

    The actor, Antonio Sabato (OK, I don't know who he is either),
said that President Obama is a muslim.

Yes,  it was a fun day.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Requiem for Ted Cruz

Requiem for Ted Cruz

I copy below a great article from Daily Kos by Chauncy Devega which analyzes and annotates the farewell speech by the religious fascist who ran for President, Senator Ted Cruz.


CRUZ: Let me tell you about the America that I love. Our nation is an exceptional nation. We were founded by risk takers and pioneers, brave men and women who put everything on the line for freedom. [1] We began with a revolutionary idea that our rights don’t come from kings or queens or even presidents but from god almighty.
That every one of us has an unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. [2]
  1. America was built on land stolen from First Nations people and with the labor and blood of black American slaves. The United States was also founded as a white supremacist Herrenvolk democracy that defined freedom relative to the near exclusive right of white men to own black human property. The reality of the color line—and of black Americans’ experiences in particular—is the asterisk that complicates every narrative about “democracy” and “freedom” from the founding to the present.
  2. Except for the gays and lesbians, transgender, and other people who Ted Cruz, the Christian Right, and movement conservatives want to see disenfranchised and stripped of their equal rights under the Constitution.
And that to protect those rights the constitution serves as change to bind the mischief of government. [3]
3. Contemporary movement conservatism is motivated by a desire to make government so weak that it can be drowned in a bathtub like a baby. Today’s Republicans view government as an enemy. Their conceptions are fixated on what is known as a “negative” conception of liberty. Their ideology is unable to accept that government can be a force for good that can protect individual and group rights, promote economic growth, provide a social safety net, and improve society by properly tending to the Commons. In total, this is the “positive” liberty and freedom understood by presidents such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, and black Americans who after the Civil War, spoke of being “freed into the arms of government”.
For more than two centuries, we have protected those rights. We believe in equal rights for everybody—that everybody deserves dignity and respect whether they agree with you or not. [4] That there will always be evil in the world and injustice in the world but America stands up to it and confronts it. [5]
4. The eliminationist and other violent rhetoric toward “liberals,” “Democrats,” and “progressives,” as well as efforts to censor, intimidate, and bully by elected Republican officials and the right-wing hate media, undermine this fantastical claim.
5. America, like other nation states, is selective in its use of both hard and soft power. The United States does not always confront “evil” and “injustice.” There are many such examples: The United States is waging a war on “terrorism” that, by its own admission, has killed many thousands of innocent people in the Middle East and elsewhere. The United States has supported dictatorial and authoritarian regimes around the world. The United States has also suppressed people’s movements and efforts to create democratic change across Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The United States also chose to not intervene to stop genocides in countries/regions such as Rwanda and the Sudan.
Even from a Montgomery jail our voice for justice and equality rings out for the ages. [6] America is hopeful, optimistic. America is kind. We are not boastful or mean-spirited. America is brave. We keep our word and we believe in peace through strength. [7]
6. Conservatives consistently misappropriate the name and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. King was a radical thinker. Conservatives both during King’s life and in the present reject his humanistic vision and deep criticism of white supremacy, classism, and militarism. Dr. King supported slavery reparations, peace abroad, a robust social safety net, guaranteed income, affirmative action for black Americans, and wanted the United Nations to investigate the United States for violating the civil rights of black and brown people. These are all positions that Ted Cruz and the Republican Party enthusiastically reject.
7. Victims of America’s drones, other covert actions, and those who were tortured and killed by those foreign officers and soldiers trained at the School of the Americas would likely disagree. The many innocent people who were tortured by the Central Intelligence Agency, contractors, and United States military personnel during the post 9/11 “War on Terror” would also disagree with the premise that the United States is “kind,” “brave,” and not “mean-spirited.” The hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and others who have died across the Arab world and Middle East because of America’s pre-emptive wars and coups would also disagree.
We have spilled more blood, spent more treasure in defense of liberty than any country in history yet we do not engage in wars of conquest. We do not seek to enrich ourselves at our neighbors’ expense. [8] America is the land that gave my mom, an Irish Italian girl growing up in a working class family the chance to be the first in her family ever to go to college, to become a pioneering computer programmer in the 1950s.
8. The Monroe Doctrine and “Manifest Destiny” established a sphere of influence for the United States in the Western hemisphere. Within this sphere of influence, the United States has overthrown governments, allowed its corporations to exploit the resources of independent countries, and seized land and resources at will. The Mexican American War and various other “police actions” and “interventions” were direct efforts by the United States to conquer other countries and to enrich itself at the expense of its neighbors.
The United States has engaged in wars of conquest outside of this sphere of influence through the use of proxy states and movements, covert actions, and on occasion, publicly known direct action by the military or other forces. The United States protects and maintains its empire through 800 military bases in 80 countries.As David Vine observes in The Nation, this is likely more than any other empire, people, or nation in human history.
I love you, mom. America is the land that welcomed my father as a penny immigrant. He’d seen oppression, prison and torture in Cuba and for him America was hope. It was opportunity. In 1957, if someone had told that teenager washing dishes for $0.50 an hour that one day his son would be elected to the Senate and he would get a chance to cast his ballot for his son to be president of the United States …
That teenage immigrant washing dishes could never have believed it and yet that’s exactly what happened. Only in America. [9]
9. This is a standard “American Exceptionalism” talking point about the myth of meritocracy and how the United States is a “unique” country of “immigrants.” There are many examples, from countries around the world, where people willingly immigrate or arrive as refugees and enjoy intergenerational upward mobility.
In recent months, a lot of people have been talking about what happened 40 years ago at the Republican convention in Kansas City—our party’s last contested convention. When I look back at that convention in Missouri, I think of the speech that Ronald Reagan gave to our party. He spoke not of the next four years. He saw not the close horizons that of interest to those who seek to build their own fortunes in the short term but instead he looked to the distance times and — that concerned the men and women who’s purpose it is to secure the blessings of liberty to their posterity. [10]
10. Ronald Reagan’s policies destroyed unions and hollowed out the American middle class while further enshrining the neoliberal order in service of the global plutocrats. Reagan was also pragmatic. He raised taxes 11 times, passed gun control laws, tripled the federal debt, expanded the federal government, engaged in bipartisan policy-making with Democrats, and negotiated with both the Soviet Union and “terrorists” in Iran. Reagan also expanded reproductive health rights for women in California during his time as governor. At present, Ronald Reagan would be rejected as too “liberal” and a “R.I.N.O.” conservative” by the Republican Party and its media.
Ronald Reagan spoke of the next 100 years and of the generations of Americans who would come to know whether our nation had escaped the existential threat of nuclear war, who would know whether our party had succeeded in its fight against the erosion of constitutional freedoms that only grow and multiple under rule of the Democratic Party. [11] Ronald Reagan spoke of the purpose that defined our party then and that must unite and drive our party now.
11. Ted Cruz confuses the “right” of Christian theocrats and other conservatives to deny the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms and liberties of other Americans with an “erosion” of constitutional freedom. Moreover, Republicans through voter suppression laws and other means have acted to restrict the voting rights of millions of Americans.
Gays and lesbians and other groups have seen their constitutionally protected rights vastly expanded (and respected) by the Democratic Party.
Also, see my previous comments on “positive” versus “negative” liberty.
The Republican Party of Ronald Reagan and of George Herbert Walker Bush ensured that thousands of nuclear missiles that the Soviet Union and the United States had targeted each other were never fired and that Soviet communism was consigned to the ash heap of history. [12]
12. The Soviet Union was defeated by the continuity in American foreign policy (some aspects successful; other aspect not so much) across presidential administrations and parties. Contrary to Republican myth-making and fantasy, the Berlin Wall was not brought down because Ronald Reagan told Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”
They fought hard so that our American freedoms were not lost to any foreign foe nor sacrificed in pursuit of any domestic agenda of the Democratic party. [13]
13. See my earlier comments on eliminationist and violent rhetoric by Republicans and the right-wing media. They don’t see Democrats as simply one of the country’s two, main, institutionalized political parties. No. They are mortal enemies, traitors, and a type of fifth column that wants to destroy the United States of America. This language is encourages violence and domestic terrorism.
Yet the challenges we face today remain as great as ever. Americans are deeply frustrated and desperately want to change the path that we’re on. We have economic stagnation at home and our constitutional rights are under assault. Under the Obama-Clinton foreign policy, Russia has emerged as a resurgent threat. [14]
14. Under Barack Obama, the unemployment rate is now near 5 percent. Gas is at the lowest price in recent memory.
Russia “re-emerged” as a “threat” in response to the Bush-Cheney administration.
China looks with a covetous eye on the lands of our allies in the region. A nuclear North Korea and a near nuclear Iran yearn to devastate our homeland and radical Islamic terrorism unleashes an evil that threatens the world. [15] This year, two weeks before our party gathers in Cleveland all Americans will celebrate the 240th birthday of the United States of America.
15. Iran is not an existential threat to the United States. Likewise, Islamic terrorism is not an existential threat to the United States or Europe. North Korea represents a very particular and unique challenge for global diplomacy, one that has vexed policy makers in multiple countries across many years. Iran is a sovereign country and regional power that like other nation states has an inherent right to develop nuclear weapons. Foreign policy experts in numerous countries and across lines of party and ideology have praised the Iranian nuclear deal as the best option and outcome reasonably available.
American parents and grandparents will watch the fireworks with their kids and will dream of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren to come and wonder how those future generations of Americans will remember what we do not only this summer but in the coming decades. Will we rise to meet the challenges that face our nation on the international stage or will we withdraw and cower timidly from the world?
Will we secure freedom of thought, expression and religion for future generations?
Or will we succumb to the tyranny of a political correctness and the temptation of radical politics and balkanization here at home? [16]
16. The Republican Party has become increasingly radicalized and extreme since the election of Barack Obama, the United States’ first black president. There are many examples of this revanchist and borderline seditious behavior.
The GOP has refused to cooperate on basic legislation and in service to the letter and spirit of the United States Constitution in terms of the Supreme Court or filling other vacancies.
During Obama’s tenure, the Republican Party has taken unprecedented actions such as shutting down the government and threatening to default on the country’s financial obligations. Republicans have used the language of the Southern slaveocracy and Confederacy such as “nullification” and “states’ rights” to oppose Obama and the Democrats. The Republican Party and its media have also slurred Obama with “birtherism” and other bizarre conspiracy theories that were designed to mark the country’s first black president as illegitimate and a usurper who is not a “real” (read: white) American.
Will we hold fast to our founding values of rewarding talent, hard work and industry or will we continue on that path of creeping socialism that incentivizes apathy and dependency? [17]
17. Since the Reagan ‘80s, the social safety net has been eviscerated in the United States. Republicans have continued this assault: public education, school lunch and breakfast programs, aid for the unemployed, as well as assistance to the poor, women, and children have been gutted. America’s infrastructure is inefficient, dangerous, and poorly maintained. Wealth and income inequality are at extreme levels that rival the Gilded Age. If there is “socialism” in the United States it is embodied by the submerged state and how the financiers, bankers, and other Wall Street plutocrats are subsidized by the public, do not pay taxes, are protected from prosecution for their misdeeds, and are a parasitic class that lives off of “carried interest” and other dividend income.
Will we deliver control of health care to citizens and their doctors or will we continue down the Obamacare road to second rate socialized medicine? [18]
18. “Obamacare” has been a great success. Millions of Americans now have access to quality and affordable healthcare. The number of uninsured people has continued to drop; costs are also being controlled, and in many cases, lowered.
Countries in Europe and elsewhere with “second rate socialized medicine” have longer life spans, are happier, and far better health outcomes for most illnesses than the “for profit” American health care system.
Will we keep America safe from the threats of nuclear war and atomic terrorism?
Or will we pass onto future generations a land devastated and destroyed by the enemies of civilization? [19]
19. See my earlier comments on existential threats (not) facing the United States. Global warming is much more likely to destroy the United States than is nuclear war or atomic terrorism. Cruz’s comment is important, however, for how it fits into the Christian right-wing’s millenarian eschatological “End Times” fantasies about the “Second Coming” of Jesus Christ and a war between the forces of “Satan” and “God.”
This is the responsibility with which we have been charged by history. This is our challenge. This is the fight that falls to our generation. When we launched this campaign 13 months ago we saw a movement grow. The pundits all said it was hopeless but we saw over 300,000 volunteers all across this nation.
Over 1.5 million contributions averaging about $60 each.
Many of those volunteers, many of those contributions you never forget. Just a few days ago two young kids ages four and six handed me two envelopes full of change. All of their earnings from their lemonade stand. [20] They wanted the campaign to have it. That’s what built this campaign. That’s what fuels this movement.
20. “Christian” Ted Cruz takes money from children with the full knowledge that his presidential campaign is going to end imminently.
Thank you to each of you. Incredible patriots who have fought so hard to save our nation.
And I’m with you. I am so grateful to you, to my amazing wife, Heidi.
To our precious girls.
To my mom, the prayer warrior. [21]
21. The Christian Right is an extremely powerful force in the Republican Party. Cruz represents the Dominionist and Reconstructionist wing of the GOP, a group that believes that the United States should be a theocracy run by “Biblical law.” Cruz has signaled to this repeatedly during his campaign, most notably his comment that he is a “Christian” before he is an “American,” and that the United States Constitution should be reconciled with the Bible.
The language of “prayer warrior” has a very specific meaning. Christian fascists believe in the power of prayer to impact public policy. In fact, there are “prayer warrior” training camps across the United States where Christian fascists are taught that it is “God’s will” that they enter politics and use any means—including lies, trickery, and deception—to change America’s secular politics and law. The Christian Right’s prayer warriors want to impose a Christian dictatorship in the United States.
To my dad who has traveled this nation preaching the gospel.
To Carly Fiorina who has been an incredible, phenomenal running mate.
What you have done — the movement that you have started is extraordinary. I love each and every one of you.
From the beginning I’ve said that I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory. Tonight, I’m sorry to say it appears that path has been foreclosed. Together, we left it all on the field in Indiana. We gave it everything we’ve got but the voters chose another path. And so with a heavy heart but with boundless optimism for the long term future of our nation, we are suspending our campaign. But hear me now I am not suspending our fight for liberty.
I am not suspending our fight to defend the constitution, to defend the Judeo-Christian values that built America. [22]
22. This is another signal to the Christian Domininist and Reconstructionist fascist movement. Movement conservatives and other members of the Republican Party are also receptive to this narrative. Contrary to the myth-making, lies, plagiarism, and willful distortions of American history as offered by “scholars” such as David Barton, the United States was not founded as a Judeo-Christian country. The Framers desired that there be a strong wall between Church and State. The Framers also included among their number Deists, atheists, and agnostics.
Ted Cruz, like other Republicans, is also confirming his right-wing bonafides as a supporter of Christian Zionism and Israel’s policies against the Palestinian people. In keeping with their mythological and primitive thinking, Ted Cruz and other members of the radical Christian right think that Israel must be protected because it will be the site of the “End Times” battle they believe is necessary for them to be “raptured” into “heaven.”
Our movement will continue and I give you my word that I will continue this fight with all of my strength and all of my ability.
You are extraordinary and we will continue to fight next week and next month and next year and together we will continue as long as god grants us the strength to fight on.
For one thing remains as true today as it was 40 years ago in Kansas City. In this fight for the long term future of America there is no substitute for victory. There is no substitute for the America that each and every one of us loves with all of our heart, that we believe in with all of our heart and that together we will restore as a shining city on the hill for every generation to come. Thank you to each of you and God bless you.
****
It is unclear if Ted Cruz and the other Republican candidates who recite the narratives and talking points highlighted above actually believe them, or are simply following a script that in their estimate will satisfy the average, low-information GOP voter. Both rationales do great harm to the American body politic. The first, perhaps, can be understood as the result of ignorance and how people have a remarkable capacity to twist the facts in order to fit their desires and standing priors. The second explanation is craven realpolitik where victory matters more than serving the truth and the Common Good: This is a betrayal of democracy.
As historian Richard Hofstadter argued some decades ago, the modern Republican Party, and movement conservatism more generally, are a type of political religion. They exist outside of empirical reality—the right-wing news entertainment disinformation machine has fully propagandized its public and as such, epistemic closure is the status quo ante for the American right.
The brain structures and psychological processes of conservative-authoritarians are fear-centered, tend toward simplistic binary thinking, and have an in intolerance for ambiguity and complexity. Conservative-authoritarians, as explained by “terror management theory,” also have a profound fear of their own mortality and tend to fixate on “the flag, guns, and God” to soothe those anxieties.
The Republican Party is facing a crisis of both demography (their voters are older and more white than a general population that is becoming more diverse and young) and empirical reality. As demonstrated by Ted Cruz’s surrender speech to Donald Trump, it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win presidential elections precisely because their voters live in an alternate reality—one that cannot be reconciled with the world as it actually exists.
Consequently, the Republican Party establishment is left with a problem of its own making. Do they tell rank-and-file conservatives that they have been systematically lied to by their leaders, and together, forge a new path forward? Or do the Republican Party’s elites double down on the lies, conspiracy theories, and disinformation with the hope that the right mix of deception will help them win the 2020 presidential election?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Just saying...

Has anyone else noted that in the last few years, newly purchased items are extremely difficult to remove from the almost indestructible plastic coverings. I find that I need either a scissors or a sharp knife to open these packages, and in doing so I almost lose some fingers or otherwise mutilate my hands. Remember the days when you could easily rip open any package, such as a computer-related  or electronic item, with your hands. And then slowly things changed. The plastic wrap became more and more tough and had to be physically cut with a knife to be opened. Today was  the absolute winner. I purchased a 14 ft pole with an attached saw blade from a general supply store to cut tree  branches . It was completely covered with a hard incredibly hard plastic. I finally used a sharp knife to make an opening and then a scissors to slowly cut the plastic covering the device, trying to avoid the sharp edges of the plastic pieces.

What is going on? Is this a plot by the underpaid factory workers in China, Mexico, VietNam, etc. to finally get back at rich Americans? Or is it paranoid stupidity by the owners of the American retail chains to make their products impenetrable to avoid theft. I often wondered what someone abandoned on a South Pacific island would do when faced with trying to get these items from the plastic wrappings- hit them with a coconut? Do they really believe that someone could possibly open packages in the store and walk out with the items. There should be a consumer revolt to stop buying these things if they are packaged to survive on Mars. Enough is enough!


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Know Thy Enemy: The House Republican Freedom Caucus

                                                

Jim Jordan

Jim Jordan official photo, 114th Congress.jpg
  • Jordan is among the most conservative Republicans, earning a perfect score from the American Conservative Union. 
  • He has voted consistently for anti-abortion legislation and was endorsed by Ohio Right to Life in 2012. 
  • During the 112th Congress he was one of 40 "staunch" members of the Republican Study Committee who frequently voted against Republican party leadership and vocally expressed displeasure with House bills. 
  • He was the primary proponent and executor of the Republican Congressional strategy to force a government shutdown, in order to force changes in the Affordable Care Act.
  • In the recent Hearings on Benghazi, Jordan attacked Hillary Clinton in a very unprofessional manner.




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Justin Amash                          
Justin Amash, official portrait, 112th Congress.jpg

  • Amash is considered pro-life, and generally opposes abortion and the use of federal funding for abortion. 
  • He claims that the "real threat" to traditional marriage and religious liberty is government, and not gay couples. 
  • He said  “I follow a set of principles, I follow the Constitution. And that's what I base my votes on. Limited government, economic freedom, and individual liberty."..
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Brian Babin                            
Brian Babin official congressional photo 2.jpg

  •  Babin cites water conservation, repealing the Affordable Care Act and stopping illegal immigration as his main priorities 
  • He believes in the Protestant work ethic and the concept of "if you don’t work, you don’t eat, if you are able to work." 
  • He supports term limits and wants to reduce the number of out of wedlock births and restore the traditional family unit. 
  • He also believes that taxes are too high and the tax code is too complex. .
  • Babin said that President Barack Obama "deserves impeachment", 
  • Babin endorsed Texas Senator Ted Cruz for President.
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Rod Blum
 Rod Blum official congressional photo.jpg
   
  • Rod Blum praised House Republicans for “standing up for their principles” during the 2013 government shutdown.  
  • Blum even praised the orchestrator of the government shutdown, Ted Cruz, for pushing to shut down the government to defund the Affordable Care Act. 
  • The House Freedom Caucus recently declared its opposition to a Continuing Resolution that provides any funding for Planned Parenthood.  
  • Blum supports the First Amendment Defense Act, which would allow businesses to discriminate against customers who don’t share their beliefs.  
  • Freedom Caucus Opposes Any Spending Bill With Planned Parenthood Money. 
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David Brat

Dave Brat official congressional photo.jpg


  • Brat has advocated that Christians, both individually and through the church, should more forcefully support free-market capitalism, and should behave more altruistically, in the manner of Jesus, so that "we would not need the government to backstop every action we take."
  • He has blamed the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany on the lack of "unified resistance", adding, "I have the sinking feeling that it could all happen again, quite easily." 
  • Brat believes that countries with Protestant pasts have economic advantages over countries that do not, and that Protestantism "provides an efficient set of property rights and encourages a modern set of economic incentives" that often lead to "positive economic performance". 
  • He believes in Christ as a transformer of culture, and that capitalism is the key to world transformation. This can be achieved when capitalism and Christianity merge; if people follow the gospel, and as a consequence behave more morally, then the markets will improve
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Jim Brindenstin

Jim Bridenstine, official portrait, 113th Congress.jpg

  • Bridenstine is one of three co-chairs of the Veterans Coalition supporting Ted Cruz for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential campaign.. 
  • Bridenstine introduced a bill to improve weather forecasting in response to several 2013 Oklahoma tornadoes. 
  • Bridenstine said that "my state has seen all too many times the destructive power of tornadoes and severe weather.
  • Bridenstine claimed 30 times more money was being spent on climate change research than on weather forecasting and warning, a claim that is not true. 
  • Bridenstine  recently hosted an event in his Oklahoma district, where he fielded a noxious question from a constituent. Specifically, an unidentified woman suggested President Obama “should be executed as an enemy combatant.” She added, “This guy is a criminal, nobody’s stopping him.”  “Look,” the congressman responded, “everybody knows the lawlessness of this president. He picks and chooses which laws he’s going to enforce or not enforce. He does it by decree.” Bridenstine, slipping even deeper into the fever swamp, added that Obama “uses foreign bodies, he uses, you know, the United Nations to change the laws in the United States.”
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Mo Brooks

Mo Brooks, Official Portrait, 112th Congress.jpg
                        
  • Brooks is opposed to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act . Brooks is also  opposed to allowing illegal immigrants to remain in the United States.  
  • A pundit said that the Republican Party could not survive as the "party of white people." Brooks responded: "Well, this is a part of the war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party... And the way in which they’re launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else. It's part of the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued in 2012, where he divides us all on race, on sex, creed, envy, class warfare, all those kinds of things." 
  • Brooks claimed that "we are at risk of insolvency and bankruptcy because the socialist members of this body choose to spend money that we do not have." 
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Ken Buck

Ken Buck official congressional photo.jpg

  • When Buck was the Weld County District Attorney, he said in a rape case: “It appears to me … that you invited him over to have sex with him," and that he thought she might have wanted to file rape charges to retaliate against the man for some bad feeling left over from when they had been lovers more than a year earlier. 
  • According to the Independent, "Buck also comes off on this tape as being at least as concerned with the woman’s sexual history and alcohol consumption as he is with other facts of the case." 
  • Drawing on Buck's abortion stance, the Independent also points out that "The suspect in this case had claimed that the victim had at one point a year or so before this event become pregnant with his child and had an abortion, which she denies, saying she miscarried. 
  • The suspect’s claim, though, is in the police report, and Buck refers to it as a reason she may be motivated to file charges where he thinks none are warranted."

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Curt Clawson

Curt Clawson official congressional photo.jpg


  • Clawson was endorsed in the primary by the Tea Party Express. 
  • He spent $2 million on advertising and in one of his ads he challenged U.S. President Barack Obama to a game of one on one basketball. 
  • Clawson delivered the Tea Party response to President Obama's State of the Union Address in 2015.
  •  He had an embarrasing moment in a recent hearing: The two officials, Nisha Biswal and Arun Kumar, are Americans who hold senior positions at the State Department and Commerce Department, respectively. Although both Biswal and Kumar were introduced as U.S. officials by the chairman of the Asia and Pacific subcommittee, Clawson repeatedly asked them questions about "your country" and "your government," in reference to the state of India.
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Ron DeSantis

Ron DeSantis, Official Portrait, 113th Congress.jpg



  • DeSantis introduced into the House the Faithful Execution of the Law Act of 2014 (H.R. 3973; 113th Congress), a bill that would direct the United States Department of Justice to report to the United States Congress whenever any federal agency refrains from enforcing laws or regulations for any reason. In the report, the government would have to explain why it had decided not to enforce that law. DeSantis spoke in favor of the bill, arguing that "President Obama has not only failed to uphold several of our nation's laws, he has vowed to continue to do so in order to enact his unpopular agenda... The American people deserve to know exactly which laws the Obama administration is refusing to enforce and why." 
  • In 2013 DeSantis signed a pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity promising to vote against any Global Warming legislation that would raise taxes.
  • Congressman DeSantis recently spoke at a Ripon Society forum and addressed the 2013 IRS scandal and tax reform. 

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Scott DesJarlais

Scott DesJarlais, Official Portrait, 112th Congress.jpg

  • DesJarlais was considered one of the most vulnerable Congressmen, because of revelations in October 2012 that he had prescribed drugs to a patient with whom he was having an affair and had pressured his former wife and former mistress to have several abortions. 
  • But he was re-elected in 2012 with a reduced majority.
  • Despite these vulnerabilities, DesJarlais managed to hold his seat. 
  • DesJarlais' first wife Susan had alleged that her ex-husband engaged in "violent and threatening behavior".
  • Court filings revealed that he had at least four affairs. One was with a female patient. According to the Huffington Post, tapes that DesJarlais himself recorded, show that he pressured her to have an abortion after she became pregnant. 
  • A second woman came forward, stating that she began dating DesJarlais while she was his patient. 
  • She alleges that the two smoked marijuana together and he prescribed pain medications for her while at his house. 
  • The transcript also revealed that contrary to his staunch anti-abortion stance as a congressman, he had counseled his then-wife to have two abortions and pressured one of the patients with whom he'd had an affair to get an abortion.
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Jeff Duncan

Jeff Duncan official photo.png


  • On the 1st of August 2012, Duncan took part in the ´Chick-fil-a appreciation day´, using Twitter to publicize his purchase of large quantities of fried chicken produce in an apparent endorsement of CEO Dan Cathy´s anti-same-sex marriage sentiments. 
  • In January 2012, The New American‘s Freedom Index gave Duncan a perfect 100% score for his votes in 2011. He was just one of three members of congress to receive a perfect score, the other two being Walter B. Jones (R-NC) and Ron Paul (R-Texas).
  • On November 19, 2012, Duncan led a group of 97 Republican U.S. Representatives in writing a letter to President Obama, expressing opposition to the possible nomination of U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice to U.S. Secretary of State



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John Calvin Fleming Jr.

John flemming.jpg



  • In September 2013, Fleming cosponsored and introduced the Republican Study Committee’s American Health Care Reform Act, as an alternative to the soon-to-be-implemented Affordable Care Act, which Fleming said was “not fixable or repairable.” 
  • Also in September 2013, Fleming was among several conservative House Republicans who worked to defund and/or delay Obamacare in connection with government funding and debt ceiling legislation. 
  • In June 2013, Fleming sponsored an amendment to a Defense spending bill requiring the military to accommodate, except in cases of military necessity, "actions and speech" reflecting the "conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the member." The amendment drew objections from President Obama, who said "commanders need discretion "to address potentially problematic speech and actions within their units." 

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Trent Franks

Congressman Trent Franks.jpg



  • On October 14, 2009, Franks joined with three fellow Representatives in calling for the investigation of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) over allegations of trying to plant "spies," based on a CAIR memo indicating that they "will develop national initiatives such as Lobby Day, and placing Muslim interns in Congressional offices." 
  • The request followed publication of the book Muslim Mafia. Representative Sue Myrick had written the foreword, which characterized CAIR as subversive and aligned with terrorists.
  • CAIR has countered that these initiatives are extensively used by all advocacy groups and accused Franks and his colleagues of intending to intimidate American Muslims who "take part in the political process and exercise their rights."
  • The National Journal has ranked Franks among the "most conservative" members of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2009.
  • He is a member of the Republican Study Committee.  
  • In June 2013, he proposed a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks without exceptions for rape and incest. 
  • In defense, he stirred controversy when saying that “the incidents of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low."  
  • During the 2008 campaign, Franks stated that he is skeptical about global warming.
  • He opposes same-sex marriage and abortion.
  • Franks supports the right to bear firearms. The interest group, Gun Owners of America, have given Franks high approval ratings.

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Scott Garrett

Scott Garrett official congressional photo.jpg


  • Garrett is considered the most conservative member of the New Jersey delegation, and one of the most conservative congressmen ever to represent the state. 
  • Garrett voted against child safety locks on handguns and  against emergency funding for Hurricane Katrina victims. 
  • He was the only New Jersey member to vote against federal aid for household pets in case of a disaster. 
  • He was one of only four members of the House of Representatives to vote against an extension of unemployment benefits. 
  • Garrett was the only member of the New Jersey delegation that voted to keep the government closed during the United States federal government shutdown of 2013. 
  • He was also the only member of the New Jersey congressional delegation to refuse to sign a letter urging the House to provide relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy.  
  • As a state legislator, he once proposed public schools teach intelligent design alongside evolution. 
  • Garrett was the only congressman from New Jersey to vote against the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act for purposes of states' rights.



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Paul Gosar

Paul Gosar Official Portrait c. 2012.jpg


  • Paul Gosar describes himself as pro-life. On abortions, Gosar states, “These procedures undeniably rob the world of a human life in a most cruel fashion... The right thing to do is to ban these procedures.”
  • These beliefs are reflected in his voting record. Gosar cosponsored the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, a bill that would make permanent restrictions on federal funding of abortions in the US.
  • Gosar also cosponsored the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, an act placing restrictions on abortions in the District of Columbia.
  • Gosar was given a 100% rating by the National Right to Life Committee, a pro-life interest group, and a 0% rating by NARAL (National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League), a pro-choice interest group. 
  • Gosar has stated that the “Second Amendment is one of the most important rights set forth by the Bill of Rights” and has stated he will “continue to oppose efforts to restrict, infringe, or remove this constitutionally protected right.”
  • Gosar cosponsored the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, a bill that would allow noncitizens of a state to, with concealed carry permits, carry concealed weapons in that state. 
  • In 2010 Gosar signed a pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity promising to vote against any Global Warming legislation that would raise taxes. 
  • On September 11, 2015, Gosar announced that he had filed articles of impeachment against EPA administrator Gina McCarthy for "high crimes and misdemeanors:", claiming that she had "lied to the American people in order to force misguided and overreaching regulations, which have no scientific basis, down our throats."
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H. Morgan Griffith

Morgan Griffith, Official Portrait, 112th Congress B.jpg

  • Griffith supported a constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage by defining marriage as between one man and one woman. 
  • Griffith voted in favor of several bills to reduce restrictions on gun ownership, including a bill to allow concealed weapons in vehicles without a permit and to allow concealed weapons permit holders to carry their firearms in restaurants and bars.
  • Griffith also voted to prohibit consumption of alcohol while in possession of a concealed weapon. 
  • Early in 2010, Griffith voted in favor of a bill to prohibit any individual mandate to purchase health insurance. 
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Andy Harris

Andy Harris, Official Portrait, 112th Congress.jpg


  • On October 16, 2013, Harris voted against the motion to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling. 
  • Harris's prominence as a medical doctor in opposition to government-run health care made him a lightning rod for attacks by supporters of the 2010 health care legislation.  
  • In 2014 Harris led the charge to block a recently adopted Washington D.C. cannabis decriminalization bill.

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Jody Hice

Jody Hice official portrait.jpg



  • Hice first served as senior pastor of Bethlehem First Baptist Church, until April 2010 in Bethlehem, Georgia. 
  • In addition, he served as first vice president of the Georgia Baptist Convention (2004–05) and Professor of Preaching at Luther Rice Seminary. 
  • Hice served as senior pastor at The Summit Church, a Southern Baptist church, in Loganville, Georgia from 2011 until December 2013 . 
  • Hice has argued that Christians have been "tricked" into a "false belief" in separation of church and state. 
  • He claims that Islam is not only a religion, but a geo-political structure and is therefore not deserving of First Amendment protection.
  • Hice, in his book It's Now or Never, also quoted former U.S. general Jerry Boykin as stating that there is a Muslim Brotherhood plot to take over the United States. 
  • He claimed homosexuality is a choice and is indulging a sinful tendency, much like alcoholism or drug abuse. 

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Tim Huelskamp

Tim Huelskamp.jpg


  • In early 2012, Huelskamp introduced legislation that would ensure military chaplains could not be “directed, ordered or required to perform any duty, rite, ritual, ceremony, service or function that is contrary to the conscience, moral principles or religious beliefs of the chaplain, or contrary to the moral principles or religious beliefs of the chaplain’s faith group.”
  •  Huelskamp accused Treasury Secretary Geithner and the entire Obama administration of failing to correct the U.S.'s debt crisis, which he believed would lead the country down the same path. 
  • Geithner replied that Huelskamp had an “adolescent perspective on how to think about economic policy.” 
  • Huelskamp  announced that he would introduce a constitutional amendment to restore the Defense of Marriage Act.  
  • Huelskamp, Amash and Schweikert   were described by Politico and its sourcing of Huelskamp's other colleagues as "jerks" who "made life harder for other Republicans by taking whacks at them in public for supporting the team" 

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Raul Labrador

Raúl Labrador, Official Portrait, 112th Congress.jpg


  • Labrador supports the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act because he believes it will raise costs and kill jobs. 
  • He believes the best way to give Americans more affordable health insurance is with market-based policies that will decrease healthcare costs. 
  • In 2010 Labrador signed a pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity promising to vote against any Global Warming legislation that would raise taxes. 
  • Labrador stated that what the Obama administration needs to do is "immediately deport" young undocumented immigrants. 
  • He wanted language in the immigration bill requiring that undocumented immigrants be responsible for their own health care costs.

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Barry Laudermilk

Barry Loudermilk official photo.jpg


  • Loudermilk (R-Ga.) told a town hall audience in Georgia last week that he thinks parents should decide whether to have their children vaccinated against diseases like measles and mumps. He said he and his wife didn't get vaccinations for most of their children.  Loudermilk, chairman of a science subcommittee, was responding to a question that implied a link between vaccines and autism.  
  • Ludermilk said that the while the House would like to investigate such Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the government, it has been stonewalled by the Obama administration.
  • Loudermilk refused to answer a question on whether he would take down the Confederate flag from state buildings in Georgia, instead choosing to focus on the shooting's significance for the Christian community. The congressman called the tragedy “an attack on the freedom of religion,”

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Cynthia Lummis

CynthiaLummis.jpg

  • In 2008, Lummis reported her wealth as ranging from $20 million to $75 million. She ranked in 2010 as the twenty-ninth wealthiest member of Congress. 
  • Lummis is part of an extreme faction of the Republican Party seeking to hold the federal government hostage over implementation of the 2009 health care law.
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Mark Meadows

Mark Meadows, Official Portrait, 113th Congress.jpg

  • Meadows has signed the Contract from America, a list of ten policies assembled by the Tea Party movement..
  •  Meadows voted against relief for Hurricane Sandy. 
  • Meadows is a fiscal conservative and is part of a group that has advocated for a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution. 
  • In addition he opposed the recent federal stimulus spending and has expressed desire for the federal spending growth rate to be capped at the inflation rate. 
  • He supports a moratorium on all earmarks until the budget has been balanced. 
  • Meadows opposes any cuts to military spending levels. 
  • Meadows opposes any restrictions on gun purchases and opposes a national gun registry that would list detailed information about firearm ownership. 
  • Meadows has stated that cap-and-trade emission policies are ineffective and have minimal impact on the global environment. 
  • He has proposed that the United States should tap into oil and gas reserves to keep energy prices low, and to develop energy independence. 
  • He supports tapping into off-shore oil and gas supplies. 
  • Meadows opposes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"), and states that it should be replaced by private enterprise. 
  • He opposes any federal funding for abortion and believes parents should be notified of underage abortion procedures. 
  • Meadows opposes same-sex marriage. 
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Alex Mooney

Alex Mooney Congress.jpg


  • The target of most of Mooney’s socially conservative agenda through the years came towards the LGBT community, as he was credited as being the main obstacle to overcome in Maryland politics towards getting same sex marriage approved there, repeatedly stalling efforts towards the legalization being passed. 
  • Since 1999, his rhetoric on gay rights issues has been downright repulsive, including his 1999 response to legislation to create LGBT hate crime legislation in Maryland, when he asked a constituent who supported the bill, “Should we also support special rights for people who practice beastiality?” 
  • In fact, Mooney claimed in July 2008 that hate crimes legislation was a secret pathway towards gay marriage being legalized, and that would lead to religious figures being “oppressed”, and then they’d come for the children! 
  • Alex Mooney also voted for the latest attempt by the Republican House to repeal the Affordable Care Act. This in spite of the fact that data shows it’s not just working, it’s working better than it was expected to.
  • Rep. Mooney voted to defund the Department of Homeland Security, as one of many Republicans as a threat to President Obama over his executive orders on immigration.


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Gary Palmer

Gary Palmer official congressional photo.jpg


  • In 1989, Palmer co-founded the Alabama Family Alliance, which later became the Alabama Policy Institute. Palmer served as president of the conservative think tank for 25 years, stepping down in 2014 to pursue a run for Congress. 
  • Palmer helped found the State Policy Network, a nonprofit umbrella organization for conservative and libertarian think tanks which focus on state-level policy, and served as its president.


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Steve Pearce

Steve Pearce, Official Portrait, 112th Congress.jpg


  • In  a memoir Pearce wrote that a wife should "voluntarily submit" to her husband, just as the husband should "lovingly lead and sacrifice".  
  • In late October 2007, Pearce made 130,000 automated phone calls to justify his opposition to the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) bill that would have provided health benefit to children. 
  • The Wilson campaign claimed "Pearce violated House ethics by urging those he called to contact him through his official, non-campaign phone number or check out his official, non-campaign Web site."

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Scott Gordon Perry


Scott Perry official photo.jpg


  • In 1993, Perry founded Hydrotech Mechanical Services, Inc., a mechanical contracting firm in Dillsburg. The firm provides contract construction and maintenance services to municipal and investor-owned utilities from North Carolina to New York specializing in large meter calibration. 
  • In 2002, allegations were raised by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection against Hydrotech that accused the company of altering sewage monitoring reports while doing work for the Memphord Estates Sewage Treatment Company. 
  • Perry faced charges of conspiring to falsify state mandated sewage records. 
  • Upon review of the situation and circumstances, he was allowed to complete a diversion program and avoid any charges, which allowed him to keep his U.S security clearance.

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Ted Poe


  • Poe received a 0 rating from abortion rights group NARAL in 2007, and rating of 100 from the National Right to Life Committee in 2007–2008.
  •  He also voted for the Prohibiting Federal Funding of Abortion Services amendment on November 7, 2009. 
  • Poe does not support what he calls "government run health care". 
  • Poe voted "Nay" on the Health Care and Insurance Law Amendments bill on November 7, 2009.
  • In 2008 Poe voted for the Medicare Bill (HR 6331). 
  • Poe supports healthcare reform that would "Allow insurance to be purchased across state lines, provide for a safety net for catastrophic injury or illness…and allow for a health savings account". 
  • He opposed the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, calling it "an imperial decree to unilaterally ignore portions of the immigration law of the land".
  •  He is the sponsor of the Deport Foreign Convicted Criminals Act of 2011 (H.R. 3256), which would provide for denial of immigrant and non-immigrant visas to nationals of countries which have "refused or unreasonably delayed repatriation" of persons ordered deported from the United States. 
  • On June 7, 2009, Poe signed on as a co-sponsor of H.R. 1503, the bill introduced as a reaction to conspiracy theories which claimed that U.S. President Barack Obama is not a natural born U.S. citizen. 
  • On July 23, 2009, he appeared on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonightin which he claimed that Certifications of Live Birth issued by Hawaii State Department of Health cannot be used to obtain a U.S. passport, which is untrue. 
  • In August 2011 AlterNet reported that Poe, along with John Culberson and Michael McCaul, was attempting to remove the right of deceased soldiers families to choose which prayers, if any, were to be read at a soldier's funeral. 
  • The three politicians were said to be attempting to impose Christian ceremonies on the military funerals of everybody who has served in the military, regardless of whether or not the deceased was Christian and with or without the consent of the family of the deceased. 
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Bill Posey

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  • Bill Posey is famously the author of the failed H.R. 1503, the “Birther Bill”, that would require all candidates for the presidency of the United States to present evidence of their citizenship before being allowed to run for that office. 
  • While some might argue that this would detail what exactly the Constitution means when it specified that the President must be a natural born citizen, it however, merely seems to give credence to the insane conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and is therefore not legitimately president (even though the children of U.S. citizens like Obama’s mother are considered “natural born” and eligible. Hell, John McCain was born in Panama). 
  • When Rep. Posey was asked, himself, if he believed the president to be a natural born American, Posey refused to answer the question, saying his personal beliefs were “irrelevant”. 
  • That’s not the only conspiracy theory that Posey unfortunately adds fuel to the fire on. The good part is, he wants money put into medical research to study autism. The bad news is, Posey does so because he suspects autism is caused by vaccinations. 
  • Bill Posey’s name almost always turns up in attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (which he falsely claims passed only on party lines, ignoring the fact that folks like GOP Senator Olympia Snowe crossed the aisle), including the 2013 Government Shutdown, showing he’s either an oppositionist Birther hack, or he just gets by as a politician by throwing red meat to them. Either way, it’s kind of a dangerous level of rhetoric to engage in.

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Keith Rothfus

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  • Rothfus has been an ineffective, extreme right-wing backbencher who generally does what he's told by Boehner and Cantor. 
  • His Progressive Punch crucial vote score is the second worst of any member of the Pennsylvania delegation, after Bill Shuster's 0.96, an abysmal 1.92, and he's racked up zero scores on education, clean water, global warming, fair taxation, health care, domestic spying, labor rights.

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Matt Salmon

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  • Salmon is pro-life and has opposed federal funding of abortions as well as family-planning assistance that includes abortions. 
  • Salmon voted to ban gay couples adopting children and opposes gay marriage. 
  • In April 2013, Salmon announced that he would continue to oppose same-sex marriage even though his son is openly gay..
  • Salmon is a strong fiscal conservative and has often caused rifts and defections in his own party to oppose increasing the deficit.
  • He has strictly opposed raising the debt limit and any new spending without matching cuts. 
  • Salmon signed a pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity promising to vote against any Global Warming legislation that would raise taxes

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David Schweikert

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  • Schweikert argues that the state's immediate objective must be to secure the border against smuggling and illegal immigration.  
  • Schweikert opposes restrictions on gun ownership. He has received an "A" rating from both the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America. He was endorsed by the NRA in his 2010 election. 
  • Schweikert voted in favor of the National Right-To-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011. This act requires all states, regardless of their own laws, to honor concealed carry permits from other states. 
  • Schweikert is strongly pro-life as proven by his vote for the Title X Abortion Provider Act, an Act that would deny all federal funding to Planned Parenthood. 
  • In addition, he voted yes for the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act in which the Act would ban any taxpayer from funding abortions.  
  • Schweikert voted yes on Opening the Continental shelf to oil drilling and voted yes for drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in pursuit of coal. 
  • He voted to bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases.
  • Schweikert signed the American's For Prosperity "No Climate Tax Pledge" in which he will "oppose any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue".


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Marlin Stutzman

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  • Stutzman has opposed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. 
  • In September 2013, he advocated attaching a measure defunding the Act to must-pass legislation funding the federal government. 
  • After the government subsequently shut down, Stutzman remarked that the issue at stake was no longer merely the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and Republicans would need some concession in order to reopen the government. 
  • In 2010 Stutzman signed a pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity promising to vote against any Global Warming legislation that would raise taxes.

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Randy Weber

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  • In January 2014, during President Obama's State of the Union address, Weber in a tweet referred to the President as "Kommandant-In-Chef" [sic] and "the Socialist dictator." 
  • After the White House apologized for failing to send a more high profile leader to a demonstration in Paris following the January 2015 terrorist attacks in that city, Weber tweeted, "Even Adolph [sic] Hitler thought it more important than Obama to get to Paris." 

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Ted Yoho
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  • Yoho is a member of the Tea Party Caucus and the House Liberty Caucus.
  •  He supports reduction in taxes: replacing the current tax code with the Fair Tax, reducing corporate tax rates, and eliminating federal programs that cannot be balanced with revenues. According to the CBO, there would still be a deficit even if all discretionary spending (all Federal programs except pensions, Medicare and Social Security) were stopped. 
  • Yoho also is opposed to raising the debt ceiling unless significant spending cuts are made.
  • Yoho has described his views on voting as "radical", advocating that only property owners should be allowed to vote. 
  • He stated that early absentee ballot voting is a "travesty"
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