Southern Republican candidates have nothing to fear from the Southern Democratic electorate if my recent, highly distasteful experience, is a harbinger of things to come. If you’re new to PoliticusUSA, I’m a contributor of some 425 submissions or so, a pretty old guy and an activist Democrat.
I’m Anchorman Howard Beale, from the 1976 ‘Network’ movie, urging viewers to lean out their windows and scream, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Problem is, with an almost universal lack of local party support, I guess I am going to have to sit back and take it some more; lots more.
In fact, I just got hell from a room full of Democrats for challenging a Republican state legislator’s record. Here’s how it came down. Our County Democratic Party Chairman invited local District 36 State Representative, Marita “Rita” Allison, to speak at our ongoing second Monday of the month Democratic luncheon. Rita’s a likable lady. She’s been active in helping out with beauty pageants for decades. She’s a great retail politician who also has some positives in her voting record, especially in the areas of domestic violence and child abuse.
The remainder of her record is largely abominable.
Representative Allison is a veteran of years in the House and is sadly the new Chair of the House Education and Pubic Works Committee. She gave a good speech, rightfully focused on education and roads as befitting her new leadership role. To hear her talk, you would think it was Elizabeth Warren at the podium. Just as moderate as could possibly be. Just as Democrat as could possibly be. Then came the après-speech Q & A.
Prior to the start of the luncheon, I had asked the Representative if she minded some ‘tough’ questions. She allowed as she did not. I reiterated that the questions would indeed be tough. At the end of her speech, she even mentioned that a ‘young man’ had warned her that he might ask some tough questions, so fire away. One of the few attendees with the courage of his convictions, did indeed, fire away with some thoughtful fuel tax questions to cover the expenses involved in desperately needed state road repair. The pair went back and forth, and a voice or two was raised in a political exchange without rancor, but a spirited one to be sure.
Subsequent questions all seemed to be coming from the opposite side of the room from my locale. I looked at the Party Chairman and he nodded in understanding that I would get my chance. I did.
I praised Rita for the positives that I wrote of earlier and congratulated her on making sure over the years that the nation realized that South Carolina had the “Purttiest girls.” I then made reference to our earlier conversation about tough questions and told the Representative and my fellow Democrats that “Here they come.”
I cited Allison’s record of bill sponsorship that included either sponsoring or co-sponsoring such legislation as opposition to same-sex marriage, tax credits for those sending their children to private, often religious, specialized “Exceptional Needs” schools. Not only taking money from public schools, but building a back-door entree into privatization of all the public schools the for-profit education industry could get their hands on. The American Legislative Exchange Council has pushed the bill for years. The name of the ALEC bill is “The Special Needs Scholarship Program Act.” The name of the South Carolina bill, H4021, is “Special Needs Scholarship Program.” Look up the ALEC model legislation. Compare it to H4021. Not a nickel’s worth of difference.
Rita wants to get rid of the President’s health care plan in its entirety with a strong sponsorship of H3101, a bill that would do exactly that. Those trying to enforce the plan could face criminal charges. She further gilded her tarnished “let the poor die” lily by co-sponsoring H3355, legislation that would block the expansion of Medicaid. A Harvard study estimates an additional 1,000 annual statewide deaths at a minimum as a result. Prior to that heartless gesture, she sponsored the 2011 Voter ID Act, H3003, a bill so discriminatory that the Department of Justice kicked it back for a do-over. The bill is also based on ALEC model legislation.
In a later development, she voted her love for the house version of S836, a bill enacted to create the nation’s first Interstate Healthcare Compact in conjunction with eight other states. The bill has but one purpose; destroy Barack Obama’s health care effort.
There was an additional stack of distasteful and hurtful legislation, but I only had so much time. I asked Allison to explain her attendance at the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice event as filed with the South Carolina Ethics Commission, 3/13/2014. The Foundation was founded by the late, and much discredited free market, supply-side economist, Milton Friedman. The person in charge of the legislator contacts was once a Policy Manger at ALEC and graduated from the Charles Koch Institute’s Koch Associate Program.
The representative vehemently denied attending any Friedman event. I responded that I found it in Ethic’s Commission records. “Then I’ll have to get that corrected.” Later, after the meeting had broken up, she said I should find the record of the meeting and email it to her. Knowing the particulars, I scribbled down the contents from the Ethic’s page, noted the filing date, the Friedman name and the $604.68 gift of food and lodging. “Oh, maybe I did attend something in Charlotte. I just don’t remember.”
Before the meeting, she had denied in a conversation with the Chairman of the party that she had ever been a member of ALEC. The Chairman and I then had a conversation where he sounded a bit skeptical of my information. At the meeting, she admitted that she had paid dues to ALEC, but supposedly never participated in any functions.
Had I had time at the luncheon, I would have pointed out that Allison earned roughly a quarter of a million dollars as Communications Director of the Commission on Higher Education, most of the money coming while serving in the house (another 20 grand or so).
But, what was really galling was the reaction of my colleagues as I continued to civilly grill our representative. They literally started yelling at me. I was taking too much time and I was encouraged, not too subtly, to shut up. They cared not one wit about the issues. Blacks joined in the chorus, extraordinary, given the irreparable harm to the minority community from Allison votes. Later, one of our local State Senators, Glenn Reese, bowed and scraped before Allison, in telling the crowd how great she was for the area. Reese, popular Krispy Kreme shop owner, has served in the senate since ’91. Keep those right-wing tax deciders happy.
I’ll admit that time constraints had me talking marginally longer than I should have, but, frankly, with one exception, I’m the only one that had done any Allison homework and these questions needed to be answered. They weren’t, as Allison simply refused to comment on any of her repulsive votes.
Down South, you’re not allowed to ask Republican office holders any challenging questions.
Suprisingly Boggess doesn’t seem to realize that 365 days a year European and American History is being taught in our schools. Black folks get a month in most states (none in some). Sidebar: When I was in elementary school (grades 1-6 from 1952-58) “Negro History Week was just that…ONE week.
A New Jersey deli owner says he can’t afford to stay open after his big idea to put a “CeLeBRATe YOUR WHiTE HERiTAGE” (sic) sign in his window backfired. Rather than go out with a whimper, he’s taking a cue from Memories Pizza and begging conservatives to donate money to him.
Flemington’s Jim “Jimbo” Boggess spent February feeling left out that African Americans get a month honoring their heritage, so he decided to declare March “White History Month.” Using his deli shop as a pulpit, he hung a sign in the window on the first of the month announcing that — unbeknownst to the rest of the world — March would be a time to celebrate white people.
The sign created an immediate backlash and Boggess’ deli was inundated with angry calls and messages. For his part, Boggess seemed baffled by the whole thing. Speaking with NJ.com after five days of scandal, Boggess said it was just a misunderstanding:
“Boggess explained yesterday, ‘I love everybody, and everybody should celebrate what they are,’ and ‘I shouldn’t have to feel bad about being white….’
‘I never meant it to be a black/white thing. I only meant it to be a white thing.’ But some people ‘twisted the meaning’ of the sign…”
Needless to say, customers stopped showing up to Boggess’ shop. He eventually took down the sign, but the damage to his reputation was already done. Now, just a month and half later, Boggess says he’s essentially bankrupt.
Salivating at the sight of an anti-gay pizza shop getting close to a million dollars in just a few days (and all for simply saying they would hypothetically discriminate against gay people), Boggess set up his very own GoFundMe account, where he made a pitch to conservatives that he is another victim of political correctness gone amok.
“I don’t think I deserve this just because I wanted to be proud of being white and be able to celebrate my heritage like everyone else does. If you read this, please leave a comment and what state you’re from so I can see where my support is coming from.
Thank you for all the support and I WILL stay strong and hope to find a job.
It doesn’t appear as if Boggess will be the next big conservative pet project, though. As of writing this, his GoFundMe page has just $65 in donations. About one-third of that money comes from one guy who appears to be openly racist, commenting in part:
“Second this is the end result of a president, attorney general and media who constantly demonize whites and Christians while providing a free pass to the what is now the most damaging element of our society, specifically minorities who commit the vast majority of violent crime while endorsing a materialistic and selfish mindset.”
With friends like these, who needs enemies? Or customers?
This is one of those stories that no one is paying attention to because it’s kind of wonky and complicated. But here’s the For Dummies version for people like you and me.
One of the weird things that happened after the deregulation of the financial industry in the 90s is that corporations that had nothing to do with banking saw a way to get filthy rich by pretending to be a bank but not have to follow any of the same laws that banks do. The result? They played a significant role in the Crash of 2008 and needed to be bailed out.
GE Capital was a quintessential example of the rise of shadow banking. In most important respects it acted like a bank; it created systemic risks very much like a bank; but it was effectively unregulated, and had to be bailed out through ad hoc arrangements that understandably had many people furious about putting taxpayers on the hook for private irresponsibility.
One of the things Dodd-Frank did was force companies like GE to play by the same rules as banks and SURPRISE! GE wants no part of it. It’s no fun to play if you have to play fair. So now GE is dropping its “shadow banking” division and the financial industry just got a bit safer.
Exactly what Obama’s financial reform promised to do. But SHHHHHH! Don’t tell anyone!
The funny part about this is that Republicans swore on a stack on Bibles that Dodd-Frank would make banks and faux-financial institutions like GE act even MORE recklessly since they were legally designated as SIFI or “systematically important financial institutions” (translation: Too Big To Fail). Republicans “reasoned” that these companies would rely on the government to bail them out again.
Of course, Republicans were full of it because they knew that Dodd-Frank would impose severe restrictions on “Too Big To Fail” banks and companies. These restrictions would force them to keep enough money on hand to make bailouts unnecessary. Essentially, Dodd-Frank told the SIFIs that they could gamble all they want but they had to be able to pay their gambling debts in full if they crapped out. If there is one thing the rich hate more than poor people, it’s gambling with their own money. Republicans get really sad when the 1% can’t have their cake and eat it, too. And your cake. And his. And hers. And that guy over there’s cake, as well.
Dodd-Frank may not be perfect, but it’s making the world just a little bit safer from the greed and depredations of the rich. And any day that the rich lose a bit of their ability to destroy lives is a good day in my book.
The Fox News host is confused why Hispanic Americans don’t like the GOP. Fusion’s Jorge Ramos sets him straight
Last night, Sean Hannity spoke to Fusion host Jorge Ramos about why the Hispanic community refuses to back Republican candidates who share their cultural identity like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.
He began by asking Ramos why we don’t hear much about how historic a Rubio or Cruz presidency would be. Ramos answered that, on the one hand, both senators are choosing to follow Barack Obama in not making his race an issue in the election, and on the other, both Rubio and Cruz are Republicans of Cuban descent, whereas the majority of Latinos are of Mexican descent and vote Democratic.
A slightly confused Hannity replied by saying that he doesn’t believe in identity politics, only to characterize Latinos as people who share conservative values he identifies with: “hard work, family values, conservative on social issues, deep faith, love of country.”
Ramos replied that “it’s immigration,” because “Latinos cannot see beyond immigration right now. It’s a very simple concept, Sean — people won’t vote for a candidate who will deport your father, your friends, your colleagues, and your students.”
Hannity detailed the draconian immigration policies of Mexico and Australia, then asked Ramos why it is that if you enter Mexico illegally from a Central American country, you’re immediately thrown in jail or deported.
“It’s awful,” Ramos replied, confounding Hannity’s expectations, “how they treat Central Americans in Mexico.”
Ramos then applauded America as being “an exceptional country, an immigrant country,” which caused Hannity to try talking over him, repeatedly saying “it’s not an illegalimmigrant country.”
Ramos went on to discuss the billions of dollars that immigrants — including undocumented ones — contribute to the United States economy, but all Hannity wanted to talk about were the problems that he believes they cause. “There’s the criminal element!” he said, before returning to the topic at hand — the possibility that the Republicans might have a Hispanic nominee for president.
“What I’m saying,” Ramos tried to conclude, “is that if Cruz and Rubio choose not to support immigration reform,” but Hannity cut him off and again appealed to identity politics.
“Even if it’s the first Hispanic American president?” he asked. “Wow.”
Supervisors at the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office were ordered to falsify a reserve deputy’s training records, giving him credit for field training he never took and firearms certifications he should not have received, sources told the Tulsa World.At least three of reserve deputy Robert Bates’ supervisors were transferred after refusing to sign off on his state-required training, multiple sources speaking on condition of anonymity told the World.
And it gets worse. The certifications have gone missing:
Additionally, Sheriff Stanley Glanz told a Tulsa radio station this week that Bates had been certified to use three weapons, including a revolver he fired at Harris. However, Glanz said the Sheriff’s Office has not been able to find the paperwork on those certifications.The sheriff’s deputy that certified Bates has moved on to work for the Secret Service, Glanz said during the radio interview.
Sounds like the deputy who did finally agree to sign off on Bates’ falsified records got a promotion.Tulsa “reserve deputy” Robert Bates shot and killed Eric Harris when Bates pulled the trigger on his firearm during a chase. Bates claimed he thought it was his Taser, not his firearm. Video footage was later released showing another deputy responding to Eric Harris’ final plea for help saying, “fuck your breath” just moments before Harris died. Robert Bates has been charged with second-degree manslaughter.
As more and more information comes to light, it is becoming clear that the Department of Justice and/or the state of Oklahoma need to immediately start clearing house at that the Tulsa County Sheriff’s office. Furthermore, the practice of hiring pay-for-play cops nationwide needs to be re-examined. Donating money and goods to police departments should not be an instant qualification to walk around with a gun and a badge.
As of this morning, the Sheriff’s office has responded:
Update: The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office announced early Thursday it will conduct an internal review of the deputy reserve program.
One thing is clear—an outside agency needs to conduct this investigation beginning today. Right now. It’s time for Governor Mary Fallin and/or the Department of Justice to step in and take action today.
by Jen Hayden
Talk show host Tavis Smiley briefly threw Fox News host Bill O’Reilly for a loop with a pointed question on police violence.
The pair were engaged in a discussion Wednesday night on recent cases of police brutality, which O’Reilly shrugged off as isolated incidents that drew undue attention because they were captured on video, reported Mediaite.
“My question to you, Bill O’Reilly, is: How many isolated incidents equal a pattern?” Smiley said.
The bombastic O’Reilly was briefly silenced before admitting he couldn’t answer, and Smiley accused him of dodging the question.
“It’s an impossible question – I’m not dodging – it’s an impossible question to answer with any certainty,” O’Reilly said, comparing a statistic showing 135 black men shot by police in one recent year to the 1.2 million police officers in the U.S.
Smiley said he did not dispute O’Reilly’s statistics, but rather his interpretation of their meaning.
“When you try to tell black people every time one of these incidents happens and another precious young life is lost, that it’s just an isolated incident — that’s offensive, No. 1,” he said.
“But No. 2, as you said earlier, there are far more white people maimed by cops every day in this country than black people, and this is why this ought to be a concern for all Americans – not a color-coded issue,” Smiley continued. “We’ve got to respect and revel in the humanity of all citizens.
“And I have to stick up for the cops, because generally I think they’re doing a good job,” O’Reilly said.
Watch the entire segment posted online by Fox News…
And in the strangest of twists, the legislation passed with overwhelmingly bipartisan support, an exceedingly rare achievement for a Congress that has all but ceased to address big, long-term problems.
The legislation passed the Senate on Tuesday night by a vote of 92-8. It was approved 392-37 by the House last month before Easter recess. Obama had endorsed the proposal as Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) were closing in on a deal.
“It’s another reminder of a new Republican Congress that’s back to work,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
On the urging of Boehner and McConnell, the Senate rejected six amendments to the legislation offered by both parties and approved it as written. Boehner is expected to send Obama the legislation after a House signing ceremony on Thursday.
“Through this bold, necessary legislation, we have secured critical support for low-income seniors, for poor children, and for underserved communities across the country,” said Pelosi.
The legislation has three broad components.
First, it fixes a gaping hole in the Medicare program by replacing the formula to pay physicians — known as the Sustainable Growth Rate — which imposes steep annual cuts that Congress has routinely overridden for 12 years. Instead doctors will receive a 0.5 percent pay bump for each of the next five years before transitioning to a new system aimed at paying them for quality of care.
Second, it cuts billions of dollars from Medicare. It requires seniors who earn between $133,500 and $214,000 a year (and couples making twice that amount) to pay more for insurance and prescription drug coverage, and cuts spending on supplemental Medigap plans in order to discourage over-utilization of services on the taxpayer dime. It also modestly reduces long-term spending on providers of hospice care, home health services and nursing homes.
Third, it extends the Children’s Health Care Program for two years, moving the new expiration date to October 1, 2017. (Democrats had pushed for a four-year extension but House Republicans rejected that idea and Senate Republicans killed an amendment to that effect.)
Physician groups, including the American Medical Association, rejoiced.
The long-term Medicare changes are an important legacy achievement for Boehner, whose restive right flank has for years thwarted his efforts to secure entitlement deals with Democrats. This time many House conservatives, fed up with perennial “doc fixes,” gave him their blessing to cut the deal with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and stood by him.
In the end, most of the opponents were hardline Republican fiscal hawks who complained that the permanent “doc fix” wasn’t fully paid for, including Sens. Ted Cruz (TX) and Marco Rubio (FL). It is projected by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to add $141 billion to the deficit in the next decade.
Notably, numerous GOP fiscal hawks who have a background as physicians put aside their deficit concerns to vote for the measure, including Sen. Rand Paul (KY), Sen. John Barrasso (WY), Rep. Tom Price (GA), Rep. John Fleming (LA) and Michael Burgess (TX). The Medicare benefit cuts were a draw for some conservatives.
“Thanks for all your hard work, Mitch,” Senate Finance Chair Orrin Hatch (R-UT) whispered to McConnell on the floor seconds after the bill passed.
Obama called the legislation a “milestone” for doctors and seniors on Medicare.
“This bipartisan bill will protect health coverage for millions of Americans, and I will be proud to sign it into law,” he said in a statement. “I hope Congress builds on this good work by finding more ways to make sure every American has access to the quality, affordable health care they deserve.”