Republican Commitment to Freedom Depends On Who You Are

Republicans consistently and continuously claim they are against big government and government regulations.  They repeatedly preach that the USA would be a better place if they could just eliminate all those nasty government regulations that limit the freedom of people (and corporations whom they view as more useful people).

Their claim is that not only would the country be a better place to live and work in, but also that the national economy (a.k.a. corporate America’s profit margin) would be maximized, thus providing more jobs and more prosperity to the nation as a whole.

They would eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency (ERA) and the Department of Education, among other government agencies, and they would roll back the 2010 health care reform law if they win the White house and both houses of congress this fall.  After all, these are among the most “freedom limiting” laws and agencies of the US government.

Republicans have only one problem when trying to achieve their goal of enhancing personal freedom as they see it:  they can’t sell it.  Thus, they try to make the uninformed hate the government and its agencies and regulations, and make those same uninformed folks afraid of the government and its agencies and regulations.

Yet, if one really examines the GOP plans for increasing American freedom, one actually finds that their plan does the exact opposite!   For example:

A.  Claim of Increased Freedom:  Republicans want to eliminate the EPA and Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and all of those nasty, expensive, anti-pollution regulations that limit corporate America’s freedom to maximize their profits.

The Real Deal:  Freedom LossDoing this would eliminate a citizen’s personal freedom to breath clean air, drink clean water, and eat safe food.

B.  Claim of Increased Freedom:  Republicans want to eliminate the Department of Education and provide vouchers for students to attend private religious-run schools if their parents choose.  This increases freedom for choice for parents, as well as enhancing the freedom of the private sector to run schools for profit.

The Real Deal:  Freedom Loss:  Those students attending public schools would have to endure much larger classrooms and reduced educational resources because of the money that gets siphoned off to support the rich private school students and ultimately, the private sector for-profit school consortiums.  Thus, those that cannot afford a private education would not have the freedom to attend a school that is adequately financed to provide them with an adequate education.

C.  Claim of Increased Freedom: Republicans want to free Americans from the burden of health care reform.  They want to return the freedom of choice to the private for-profit insurance companies.  Those companies will once again have the freedom to choose who can have and who can’t have health insurance.  They want to enhance that freedom by allowing those companies complete and total power to decide what their insurance will cover and what it will not cover.

The Real Deal:  Freedom Loss:  Anyone who cannot buy or can’t afford health insurance will not be allowed freedom from curable diseases or repairable medical conditions.  Those with pre-existing conditions will not have the freedom to acquire health insurance and the protections that insurance provides in the first place.  Children will not have the freedom from childhood diseases or freedom from contagious sick schoolmates attending class while sick because their parents can’t afford to keep them at home and take them to the doctor.

D.  Claim of Increased Freedom:  The republicans would reduce or eliminate all pro-labor regulations, thus allowing the “free and unregulated capitalist market’ to set risk and safety tolerances, as well as child laborstandards, work schedules and pay.

The Real Deal:  Freedom Loss:  If you’re a corporation, this will increase your freedom to turn a profit regardless of the human cost.  If you’re a child, your freedom from exploitation is gone.  If you’re a miner, your freedom from grossly unsafe working conditions is gone.  And if you’re a an hourly wage-earner, you’re freedom from work & pay abuse is gone.

E.  Claim of Increased Freedom  The GOP supports school prayer and the teaching and following of Christian dogma in all facets of their reduced government model.   This provides believers with freedom….like the freedom to impose those views on everyone.

The Real Deal:  Freedom Loss:  Those Americans (and everyone else, actually), who are not evangelical or born-again Christians will be forced to accept the “true” teachings of the Christ, according to these fundamentalists evangelical born-again-ers.  If you’re Jewish, Hindu, Buddest, Shinto, Tao, Confucius, Muslim, atheist or any other of a myriad of other human religions or non-religions (each claiming theirs is the only truly REAL word that matters)  you’re out of luck, slick….

But not to worry.  When Mitt Romney’s gets elected, he’s make sure prosperity returns to all those who truly deserve it:

His corporate campaign supporters.

Arizona: Leading the Way to the 12th Century

When you hear mention of the US state of Arizona, your thoughts might turn to the Painted Desert, or the Grand Canyon, or the San Francisco mountains, or the cosmopolitan cities of Phoenix or Tucson.  Maybe you’ll envision the “4 corners”, where Arizona meets three other states:  Colorado, Utah and New Mexico.  And you may even relish southwestern food, which is very much a blending of Mexican, Native American and standard American foods.

Or perhaps you’ll simply remember enough American history to know that Arizona became a full state of the USA in 1912, the last of the 48 contiguous,  or physically connected American states (Alaska and Hawaii are, at present, the only non-connected US states).

Therefore, it might be a surprise to become aware that Arizona has a long history of extremist conservative views when it comes to social tolerance for diversity and women’s’ rights, to name a just a few issues which taint Arizona’s otherwise picturesque image.

The handwriting on the wall about the true nature of Arizona may well have started to be written in 1861, when Arizona, as part of the New Mexico Territory, seceded from the USA union of states as the Confederate Territory of Arizona.

In the late 1880′s (and continuing well into the 20th century), the Phoenix Indian School attempted to forcefully assimilate Native American children into the white Anglo-Saxon culture, at the expense of losing their own rich culture and history.  In fairness, this program was instituted by the US government’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, but there is no record of anyone in Arizona objecting to the setting up of this school or its “forced assimilation” agenda.

During World War 2, Arizona was host to one of several Japanese-American internment camps set up as a result of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  It also boasted several German and Italian POW camps during that era.

More recently, the Arizona legislature and the republican governor, Jan Brewer drew the attention of the rest of the USA (and hopefully the rest of the educated world) when they passed and signed into law two extraordinary measures.

The first is the “Stupid Motorist law“, which says that if a motorist gets stuck in a flash-flood (which are known to occur in Arizona due to inadequate storm drains and other anti-flood measures), he/she will be billed for his/her rescue.  The law’s name alone tells you about the tolerance level of the shakers and movers in Arizona.

The second and most onerous of the bills passed and signed into law, is SB1070, also known as the “show me your papers” statute.  This is an a purported effort to stop illegal immigration into the state of Arizona from across its border from Mexico, and was purportedly motivated by the perceived massive flow of illegals into the USA through Arizona and the federal government’s purported unwillingness to stop it.  The fact that this opened the door to discriminatory racial profiling by Arizona law enforcement (which,by the way, is nothing to write home about, as you’ll note further on) is simply the price of doing business, according to the Brewer administration.

And lest we forget, Arizona, and more specifically Maricopa Count, which includes Phoenix, is home to perhaps the most controversial, bigoted, anti-diversity, anti-immigrant, anti-Obama, lunatic sheriff in the USA:  Joe Arpaio, who among other outrageous behaviors, recently claimed he and his “posse” staff have irrefutable evidence that president Barack Obama’s official long-form birth certificate from Hawaii is a forgery, all vetting by the FBI and Secret Service (among many, many others) to the contrary.

So perhaps, given this colorful record of hysterical xenophobic and intolerant behaviors for over 150 years, one should not be surprised by the recent and most idiotic actions of the Arizona legislature and its “colorful” governor Brewer:  Their recently signed-into-law anti-abortion legislation.

Here’s the gist of it:  Arizona limits abortions to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, as do several other states.  But 20 weeks in one state is not 20 weeks in Arizona.  And why??

Because in Arizona, those 20 weeks begin on the first day a woman starts her period.  In other words, Arizona finagled a way to reduce the standard 20-week-pregnancy standard by two weeks, to 18 weeks.

Arizona’s legislators also had the audacity to define what a “medically necessary” abortion (ostensibly to “protect the well-being of the mother”) is, even though none of them is a doctor.  How cool is THAT??

While it is clear that no informed person believes that abortion is an acceptable form of birth control, the fact is that abortions are sometimes necessary for a whole variety of reasons, not the least of which is that some young people have had sex without first having been provided with the information necessary to protect themselves against unwanted pregnancies.  Obviously, “abstinence only” programs don’t provide this necessary information, thus the unreality of republican ideas in that regard.

But Jan Brewer and her ultra-extreme-right legislature don’t care.  They’re going to make Arizona an example for the rest of the country.  An example of something we can all be proud of….

Yeah.  If you’re a lunatic.

Can Romney Win Without Santorum’s Conservatives?

Yesterday (Tuesday, April 10, 2012), Rich Santorum, the ultra-conservative republican candidate who wanted to be president finally saw what every citizen of the Earth who understands basic math could see:  he had no way forward in the GOP primaries to win enough delegates to be his party’s nominee against Barack Obama in November.  That dubious honor is clearly going to be Mitt Romney’s for the taking.  Santorum “suspended” his campaign.

Just before Santorum did so, the delegate count stood at 661 for Romney vs. 285 for Santorum.  Adding to this lopsided ratio is the fact that Santorum had lost his own lead over Romney in Santorum’s home state of Pennsylvania.  The latest poll showed Romney with 44% vs. Santorum with 40%.

Santorum took the weekend off from campaigning.  He concurrently was involved with his sick daughter who had been admitted to a hospital.  At yesterday’s press conference Santorum that his family situation was the primary reason for his withdrawal from the race.  But he was being less than honest.

In fact, reports indicate that his campaign had already contacted Romney’s campaign days before to let them know that he was abandoning the race.  This occurred after polling data above, made available to the Santorum campaign days before being publicly released, indicated that Santorum stood to be severely embarrassed by losing his own home state to Romney in the upcoming April 24th primary.

Had this happened, Santorum’s ability to mount a new presidential campaign in 2016 (assuming Romney does NOT win the November 2012 election), or 2020 (assuming Romney wins in 2012 and again in 2016), would have been permanently damaged beyond repair.  Santorum is aware that at 53 years ol, he still has opportunities to run for president.  That means we may all have to again endure his anti-gay, anti-birth control, anti-separation of church and state, anti-college, anti-women, anti-evolution, anti-climate-change, anti-abortion, anti-public school system, pro-school prayer, pro-religion in government, pro-big business views once more.

Meanwhile, with Santorum gone, Mitt Romney’s sugar-daddy super-PAC supporters, Karl Rove and the Koch (pronounced Coke, for some bizarre reason that defies explanation) brothers, are preparing a multi-million dollar ad campaign to air against president Obama in several swing states.  This first early salvo will cost these folks USD $400 million.  That’s a lot of spending this early in the campaign.  But the Rove/Koch strategy is, unfortunately, sound.  They want to begin to convince undecided independent voters that Obama “isn’t up to the job”, and thus garner support for Romney.

It is also clear that they understand that the Romney/Santorum contest has left some hefty scars on the republican bid to regain the White House  and the senate in 2012.  After all, the ultra-right wing of the republican party supported Santorum against “non-Christian Mormon” Romney, and Romney’s own liberal statements during past political campaigns are no doubt going to dog him in his campaign to unseat president Obama.  At this point, Romney does not have solid support among his own party’s most conservative voters.

That’s the problem that many, including Karl Rove and the sugar-daddy Koch brothers see with Romney.  He tried really hard to move as far to the right as possible when he was battling Santorum during the primary process.  In doing so, he alienated independent voters who are primarily centrists.  Romney and his campaign know they must pivot back to the center to regain those independent voters who ultimately determine elections.

Unfortunately for Romney, in doing so he will further alienate the ultra-conservative wing of his party that he tried so desperately to win over.  In fact, before he even says a single word in this post-Santorum era, those ultra-conservatives are already expressing reservations about supporting him!

Back on the sidelines, Newt Gingrich, the cash-starved, divorce-lawyer-challenged, pseudo-ultra-conservative (which he really isn’t) candidate, who has vowed to stay in the race right up to the Republican national convention in Tampa this August, can now only benefit as the only ultra-conservative (according to himself) left standing after Santorum, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry have left the race.

And ol’ Newt has nothing to lose, since he has already publicly acknowledged that Romney will most likely be the party’s nominee for president.  But much to Romney’s chagrin, Newt will be the recipient of much of the vote that Santorum would have gotten.  With several conservative states holding primaries in May, this could present a problem for Romney:  How does he pivot back to the center without alienating the ultra-right wing?

The simple math is that he can’t.  Those ultra-conservatives didn’t like him to begin with, didn’t trust his claim of support for conservative values, and don’t really believe that Mormonism is a Christian faith.  As Mitt is forced back to the center, they’re going to like him even less.

So it comes down to this:  Can Romney win without them?

Our money (and our hope) is that he can’t.  :)

GOP State Legislatures: “Treat Women As Livestock”!

Believe it or not, GOP state legislators in Georgia (and and earlier, in several other conservative states) recently determined that women should be treated as livestock in attempting to justify bills limiting a woman’s right to choose to only the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.  What’s even worse, they have determined that it does not matter if the pregnancy resulted from rape or forced incest.  In fact, the only exceptions allowed are in the case of a “medically futile” pregnancy, or one in which a woman’s life is in immediate danger.

While no one believes that abortion is a desirable form of birth control, it is occasionally necessary in the face of conservative rejection of sex education and their ridiculous abstinence programs.

This latest offensive attack on the part of conservatives in their holy War on Women is Georgia House Bill  (HB954).    It’s affectionately called the “fetal pain bill” by Georgian Republican, but everyone else is calling it the “women as livestock bill”.  Both houses of the Georgia state legislature has passed this bill, and republican governor Nathan Deal has indicated he will sign it into law.

Georgia republican state Representative Terry England  compared women who are pregnant with known stillborn fetuses to cows and pigs he attended to on his farm. He  reasons that if farmers have to “deliver calves, dead or alive,” then a woman carrying a dead or dying fetus should also have to carry it for a full 9 months of her pregnancy.  And as bizarre as that seems to many thinking people, he represents a thought process common to many ultra-conservatives whom, while espousing a hatred of government regulations, want endless government regulations in support of their personal religious beliefs.  This is evidenced by the fact that Nebraska, Indiana, Idaho, Kansas, Oklahoma, Alabama and North Carolina all have “fetal pain” laws limiting abortion after a similar time frame. North Carolina, for example, prohibits abortion after 20 weeks. And Arizona is about to join them.

All of those eight states have something in common:  Their state legislators and governors are controlled by conservative republicans.  The ultra-conservative wing of the republican party seems to be taking over the GOP mainstream.

If that’s true, then the prospect of Mitt Romney winning the GOP nomination, whom after his sweep last night of the Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia primaries appears virtually certain, should scare every thinking citizen of the USA.  Mitt Romney is the ultimate flip-flopper, pandering to whatever audience is in front of him at the moment.  He has moved so far to the right during the primary season that he is probably unelectable by independent voters who determine the election outcome.  He needs to pivot back to the center-right, where he was a governor of Massachusetts for his campaign against president Barack Obama in the fall.

But when he does his little pivot dance, he will also need to bring the ultra-conservative right wing of the GOP with him.  To do that, he will need an extremely conservative running mate…someone perhaps as conservative as Rich Santorum, the ultra-religious right-wing anti-contraception, anti-women’s reproductive rights, anti-gay, anti-lesbian, anti-social safety net,anti-separation of church & state,, anti-federal government presidential candidate from Pennsylvania.  Someone like that could attract the ultra-conservatives who are bound to stay home on election day if they have no other choice than  to vote for Romney for president and a Romney clone for vice-president.

What’s particularly frightening about an ultra-extreme-religious right candidate for vice-president is that he (or she) is only one heartbeat away from the presidency.  If, for instance, Romney should slip on a banana peel on his way to his presidential inauguration and break his perfect hair (thus disabling his ability to think), his VP would succeed him.  If that VP is the kind of conservative Romney must pick to turn out the conservative vote in his party, then all hell would break loose as this VP became president and attempts to implement his personal version of religion in government,  hands-off-business-no-matter-what-they-do, privatized social safety nets, and his own version of “women as livestock”.

That could not possibly be good for women, thinkers, scientists, employees, seniors, the poor, or other populations.  But, on the other hand, corporate America, and the evangelicals and born-agains would  literally eat it up.

Under these circumstances, imagine the new order:  Women would need to be branded (for ownership identification of them as proprietary human factories, you realize), thinkers and scientists would be reprogrammed into “faith-based believers”, seniors and the poor would simply cease to exist (due to starvation and sickness), and the evangelicals and born-agains would inherit what Earth is left after corporate America decimates it.

Naw…This is America.  THAT can’t happen here.

Nope.  No more than women being compared to livestock.  Could never happen here.   :(