Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Good News and Bad News

I have some good news and I have some bad news. First the bad. Unfortunately, even though the election is just a week away, it is doubtful that I’ll be able to blog much about the election during the week. Sorry. Why? Ah, that’s the good news. I’m finally going to have a chance to play tourist in Washington, D.C. (with my family). Over the next several days, we’re going to try to cram in as many monuments, museums, and memorials as we can.

I’m going to see if I can post some mini-blog entries about our tours (maybe just photos or something). But if that doesn’t work, I suspect that I will be running some kind of Twitter travelogue. Some come follow me on Twitter.

Oh. One more piece of bad news. I’ll be in D.C. on Saturday, the same day as John Stewart’s rally and Stephen Colbert’s march. However, I doubt that I’ll be able to convince my kids that the rally and march will be a fun way to spend an afternoon. So I’ll be soooo close … but won’t be there. Drat.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Friday, October 22, 2010

Do We Really Want the Insane Right to Gain Control? (update)

In Tuesday’s post “Do We Really Want the Insane Right to Gain Control?” I managed to miss at least three other crazy candidates (and some additional crazy behavior). So here’s an update.

Candidates for the United States Senate:

  • Colorado: Ken Buck. This guy is not exactly what you might describe as woman friendly. Once, during the primary campaign, he famously responded to a question about his qualifications by noting: “I do not wear high heels.” Like many other Republican candidates, he would prohibit abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, and he’s so firm in that belief that he felt compelled to gratuitously offer that position during a Q&A session just in case nobody asked a follow-up to his standard “pro-life” response. But even more amazing is the fact that while serving as a prosecutor, Buck refused to prosecute a rape case in which the alleged perpetrator had acknowledged, on tape, to raping a drunk woman. Why? Because, according to Buck, a Colorado jury might conclude that the woman made the rape allegation because of “buyer’s remorse”. And, as if that isn’t enough, also while a prosecutor, Buck refused to prosecute a pawnshop for violating gun laws. Several years later, when Buck’s supervisor decided to bring the charges against the pawnshop, Buck told the pawnshop about the weaknesses in the government’s case. He was disciplined by the Justice Department. One might wonder why he wasn’t disbarred.

Candidates for the House of Representatives:

  • Indiana: Larry Bucshon. Mr. Bucshon failed to appear at a scheduled debate with his Democratic and Libertarian challengers on Wednesday night. The debate was sponsored by League of Women Voters of Vigo County, the Tribune-Star, WTHI TV, and Ivy Tech.
  • Texas: Stephen Broden. Despite the fact that Mr. Broden is a pastor, he told a TV station: “If the government is not producing the results or has become destructive to the ends of our liberties, we have a right to get rid of that government and to get rid of it by any means necessary.” When the TV reporter asked if violence was an option, Broden said, “The option is on the table. I don't think that we should remove anything from the table as it relates to our liberties and our freedoms” (though he did say that violence was not the first option). Just think about that one for a moment: A pastor seeking election to Congress has suggested that violence may be an acceptable response if Republicans don’t get their way. Wow. Just wow.

Candidates for Governor:

  • Hawaii: Duke Aiona. The current Lt. Governor of Hawaii, Aiona is a member (though he denies it now that he’s being called out, but the video of him proclaiming membership is hard to refute) of an evangelical organization that, among other things, wants to rid Hawaii (and the world) of witchcraft, idolatry, gay marriage, and other similar “evils”. The leader of the the Hawaiian branch of the movement (Transformation Hawai’i) has called for the burning of idols (including native art and statues of Catholic saints), witchcraft items, and idolatrous books, like the Book of Mormon. Others in the movement (including leaders of the international branch) offer prayers to cast out “gay demons”. And back during the primary, Jonah Kaauwai, the head of Hawaii’s Republican Party, claimed that Aiona was being supported by the church and would be Hawaii’s first “righteous” leader since 1917 (the current Governor of Hawaii is also a Republican, but she’s Jewish, which apparently doesn’t qualify for righteousness). Mr. Kaauwai urged Hawaiian pastors not to allow the Democratic candidate for Governor to visit churches because he advanced “unrighteousness”. Aiona hasn’t distanced himself from Kaauwai’s comments or from the positions of Transformation Hawai’i or the international parent organization. I bet you didn’t realize that Hawaii could soon be a theocracy, did you?

The recent actions of a candidate for state office here in Indiana is also worth mentioning:

  • State Treasurer: Richard Mourdock is seeking reelection to the office of State Treasurer. His opponent, Pete Buttigieg has repeatedly challenged Mourdock to debate the issues (in particular Mourdock’s Quixotic campaign to stop the Chrysler bankruptcy and the mountain of legal fees that Mourdock incurred on behalf of the State of Indiana, not to mention bad investments that Mourdock made with state pension funds). Mourdock hasn’t just refused; he’s refused to even respond to Buttigieg’s requests. However, that didn’t stop Mourdock and his entourage from showing up in front of Buttigieg’s house Wednesday evening for a little publicity stunt. Classy, huh? Buttigieg was travelling to talk to voters about the issues.

And a few updates to candidates that I mentioned in my original post:

  • Wisconsin: Ron Johnson sat down for an interview with a newspaper in Green Bay. The paper was so completely unimpressed with Johnson that, for the first time ever, it chose to endorse Russ Feingold (and in fact, issued its endorsement just hours after meeting with Johnson). Why was the paper so unimpressed? It might have something to do with Johnson’s complete inability (almost a disinterest) to offer any solutions to creating middle class jobs other than “cutting spending”. Johnson also said that the election isn’t about policies and that he’ll learn what needs to be done when he gets to Washington.
  • Delaware: Christine O’Donnell. Miss “I’m not a Witch” and “I didn’t really study at Oxford” isn’t much of a Constitutional expert either (though I often wonder if she stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night…). By now I’m sure that you’ve seen the video of O’Donnell incredulously asking her Democratic opponent where the separation of church and state is found in the Constitution. When the law school audience laughs at her, she thinks they’re laughing at her opponent and even admitted that after the debate she and her staff thought that she’d really won that portion of the debate and were “high-fiving each other”. Now some have suggested that she was right in her query because the phrase “separation of church and state” doesn’t appear in the Constitution; however, later in the video, her opponent reads the First Amendment to her and she seems surprised by the text and again asks him about it. And this woman wants to serve in Congress.

Remember this: These are the people who want to be in charge of our nation and states.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

But Why Does That Race Matter to Me?

In response to yesterday’s post shining the light on some of the insanity coming from the far right and tea party (Do We Really Want the Insane Right to Gain Control?), a reader emailed to ask why craziness in another state should matter if her Republican Congressional candidate wasn’t a crazy tea party candidate. The response is simple.

If enough Republicans win elections on November 2, they may become the majority party and gain control of the House of Representatives, Senate, statehouses, and governorships across the country. If that happens, do we honestly expect the newly elected crazy tea party candidates to simply become quiet team players content to sit in the back row and do what party leadership tells them to? Will they be content to allow moderate Republicans (if there are any…) to set the legislative agenda? Of course not. Republicans in Congress and the States will be hard pressed not to act on tea party initiatives. In fact, some of those tea party folks could find themselves in leadership positions!

If tea party candidates are elected, we are likely to see either a severe lurch to the right by the Republican party as a whole or a splintering of the party that could lead to some very ugly situations as moderate Republicans find themselves marginalized. We’re likely to see “investigations” into the White House and more “birther” nonsense as violent rhetoric, race-baiting, and xenophobia become the a norm.

Finally, if the Republicans do take control, many will conclude that the strategies of obstructionism, race-baiting, conspiracy mongering, and other similar strategies worked and those methodologies may become the new political norm, as well.

And if we think that this election season has been ugly, just remember that this is just a mid-term election. I suspect that the 2012 election will make this year seem tame by comparison. Unless, of course, sanity prevails on November 2. Then we might all be able to take a giant step back from the brink of the abyss.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Do We Really Want the Insane Right to Gain Control?

It is worth taking a few minutes to look a the pure lunacy and right-wing reactionary views and people that could be elected to offices across the land on November 2. I’ve already shown video of local Indiana politicians who would force a woman who is raped to carry the fetus to term, who don’t believe in global warming, and who don’t believe in evolution. But they are just the tip of the iceberg. When you look at how many Republican candidates have expressed far-right positions or just plain weird ideas, we, as the voting electorate, should be very, very worried. Moreover, we should ask why these ideas (or the people who espouse them) have such an appeal.

So let’s look briefly at some of the many crazy candidates who could soon be in positions of power. I’m going to ignore incumbents and mainstream candidates who have mainstream ideas that happen to simply be right of center or with which I simply disagree. I’m going to focus, instead, on candidates who have ideas that are far outside what most would consider mainstream (or sane).

One other preliminary point. Almost all of these candidates have refused to grant interviews to media sources other than Fox News. Two (Rand Paul and Sharon Angle) have even been videotaped running away from local media who tried to interview them, a third (Christine O’Donnell virtually threw an MSBNC news crew out of her campaign headquarters), and a fourth (Joe Miller) had his private security guards “arrest” and handcuff a local reporter who wanted to ask him questions.

First, candidates for the United States Senate:

  • Delaware: Christine O’Donnell. Forget about her dabbling in witchcraft when she was younger. I mean, who didn’t explore the Dark Arts at some point in time. And let’s don’t worry about her anti-masturbation campaign. It’s not going anywhere in the male-dominated, seemingly sex-crazed Congress (I suspect that David Vitter [R-Louisiana] will take off his diaper and ask his hookers to stop stepping on him long enough to explain things to O’Donnell). But you should consider the fact that she lied about such simple things as where she went to school and then lied about lying. For those who haven’t followed the story, she has claimed to have taken Master’s level coursework at Princeton even though she hadn’t yet earned a Bachelor’s degree. She claimed that she attended a college when, in fact, she attended a seminar at a think tank with a similar name. And most famously she claimed to have studied at Oxford when, in fact, she took a summer class offered by a private company that simply rented classroom space at Oxford. When she was caught in the Oxford lie, she blamed her staff. Of course, when she was caught having used the same lie 8 years before she had a staff, she didn’t have much of a response.* O’Donnell has claimed that evolution is a “myth” (she says that there is more empirical evidence for creation than for evolution) and even queried where in the Constitution the government is prohibited from endorsing a particular religion. She has claimed to have received “classified” information from non-profit charities about China’s secret plans to take over the US. O’Donnell is also being investigated for tax evasion and for using campaign funds to pay for personal expenses.
  • Kentucky: Rand Paul. The son of whackjob Rep. Ron Paul, Rand Paul has famously suggested that the Civil Rights Act was a bad idea, has argued against federal regulation for mine safety (“Accidents happen,” he said), and thought President Obama was too tough on BP during the oil spill. Paul is a doctor who is “board certified”, but not by one of the boards that certifies most doctors; no, he set up his own board for that. He has also opposed the Fair Housing Act (because, you know, “a free society will abide unofficial, private discrimination, even when that means allowing hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin”). It’s also worth noting that Ron Paul includes quite a few anti-Semites in his cadre of followers.
  • Illinois: Mark Kirk. Besides lying about his military service* (and having been reprimanded by the Pentagon for trying to mix politics into his service), has also lied about other things too (he claimed to have been named “Navy Intelligence Officer of the Year”; he had to recant when it was pointed out that award doesn’t exist). When his lies have been pointed out, Kirk claims to have “misremembered”. He also claimed to have been a nursery school and middle school teacher; in fact, he was just an aid at a nursery school while in college and taught for one year at a private school in London. He’s become a sort of “go to” joke for claiming things that he has no right to claim.
  • Wisconsin: Ron Johnson. This millionaire businessman testified against the Wisconsin Child Victims Act (to extend the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of a child). Part of Johnson’s reasoning: “I think it’s a valid question to ask if the employer of the perpetrator should also be severely damaged, possibly destroyed, in a legitimate desire for justice?” It appears that Johnson testified against the bill because of concern for how it could impact non-profit organizations, in particular the Catholic Church. Johnson has called scientists who attribute global warming to man made causes as “crazy” and claims that global warming is actually just caused by sunspots.
  • Nevada: Sharron Angle. Where to begin? How ’bout when she voted against black jerseys for a high school football team because black is the color of Satan? Or, maybe, her suggestion that people should use “Second Amendment remedies” and “take out” Sen. Harry Reid? Or her insistence (channeling her inner Michele Bachmann) that there are domestic enemies of the United States in Congress? Perhaps her penchant for denying that she’s said something that can be verified by watching a YouTube clip of her saying precisely what she claims never to have said. Maybe we could focus on her idea that there should be no requirements on insurance companies with regard to mandatory coverage (like for autism and mammograms) because the free market will make things work out. We could look to her idea to phase out Social Security or her claim that the Obama administration is violating the “First Commandment” because the government is setting itself up as a false god, though she seems to have an affinity for Scientology. Angle has even suggested that rather than legalizing drugs, we should ban alcohol. We could even look to her race-baiting anti-immigrant ad (showing a group of “scary looking” Hispanic men); when questioned about the ad by a group of Hispanic students, she claimed it showed non-Hispanics coming over the Canadian border and queried whether all of those Hispanic students were actually Hispanic because some “looked Asian”. Angle has even managed to piss off Canada by claiming, incorrectly, that the 9/11 hijackers entered the US through Canada. Angle has claimed that Sharia law is "taking over” and has replaced US law in several cities (one of which hasn’t existed since 1975…). But I think her finest moment was when she said that young girls who are raped should be prohibited from having abortions and should, instead, make lemonade out of the lemon (because, you know, rape is just like a lemon…).
  • Alaska: Joe Miller. Just a few days ago, Miller’s hired thugs (calling these guy security guards is giving them more credit than they deserve) “arrested” and handcuffed a local reporter (“crazy blogger” according the Miller campaign) who tried to ask Miller questions as he bolted from a public forum where he skipped out on promised Q&A. Miller has called unemployment compensation unconstitutional, though he had to admit that his wife received unemployment benefits. He also thinks that the minimum wage is unconstitutional. And he’s had to admit that he broke ethical guidelines while he was the attorney for a town in Alaska (and we all know by now how complicated Alaska is … just remember Sarah Palin’s time in Wasilla…).

Next, we have some of the candidates for the House of Representatives:

  • Ohio: Rich Iott. First, he refuses to tell anybody what he does for a living. On some kind of form that he filled out, he said that he was a “soldier” for the State of Ohio (he does serve in the State’s National Guard two weeks each summer). But more interestingly, is his penchant for dressing up like a member of the Nazi Waffen SS. He claims that he’s trying to educate people about the honor of these men who were fighting communism and fighting for individual rights. I’m sure that it’s hard to find other good examples to emulate instead of elite Nazi soldiers. It’s also worth noting that House Republican Leader Rep. John Boehner has contributed to Iott’s campaign.
  • Oregon: Art Robinson. He’s a scientist but he disputes global warming and has claimed that AIDS is not caused by HIV, but rather, is a government conspiracy. And he believes in some crackpot concept of taking radioactive nuclear waste and sprinkling it on our water supply because, you know, a little radiation is healthy! He even believes that nuclear power is cleaner and safer than solar or wind power.
  • Florida: Allen West. This former Lt. Col. of the US Army actually brags about torturing an Iraqi prisoner (an incident for which the Army punished him and for which he was eventually forced to resign his commission).
  • Arizona: Ben Quayle. Besides the fact that he Dan Quayle’s son (which should be enough to bar him from any public office), he makes this list for thinking that he’s qualified to pronounce Barack Obama as the worst President in the history of the US. (Whether you like or dislike President Obama, I’m not sure how you can call him the “worst” … don’t forget that he did manage to keep us out of another Great Depression, passed healthcare reform, and passed financial reform, all without any help from the minority party that did everything it could to stop him and all within less than two years; compare that to George W. Bush and torture, bad wars, a ruined economy, etc.)
  • Delaware: Glen Urquhart. I’ll let Urquhart speak for himself: “The exact phrase ‘separation of Church and State’ came out of Adolph Hitler’s mouth, that’s where it comes from. So the next time your liberal friends talk about the separation of Church and State, ask them why they’re Nazis.” (I presume that I don’t need to explain how wrong this statement is…)

Two candidates for Governor deserve special mention:

  • New York: Carl Paladino. You might remember him as the guy who sent all sorts of vicious, racist emails following President Obama’s election (not to mention a bunch of porn). And he’s accused homosexuals of trying to “brainwash” students. While he won’t take his daughter to a gay pride parade because there is too much “grinding” he had no problems with fathering a daughter with his mistress (and employee) and threatening to “take out” a reporter who wanted to ask questions. He’s also suggested turning prisons into dorms for welfare recipients. And Paladino said that as Governor of New York, he would use the power of eminent domain to stop the proposed “Ground Zero Mosque”.
  • Colorado: Dan Maes. He actually claimed that Denver’s bicycle rental program was part of a United Nations plot to take over the world. He has been fined for campaign finance violations (he reimbursed himself $42,000 for mileage). And he apparently lied about being an undercover informant for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.
  • Colorado: Tom Tancredo. When Tancredo couldn’t get the Republican nomination, he decided to run as an independent. Besides suggesting that the US should bomb Mecca, Tancredo has claimed that President Obama is the “greatest threat to the United States today, the greatest threat to our liberty, the greatest threat to the Constitution of the United States, the greatest threat to our way of life; everything we believe in. The greatest threat to the country that our founding fathers put together is the man that's sitting in the White House today.”

It is also worth noting that many of these candidates (and many others that I haven’t bothered to mention) support eliminating or privatizing Social Security, ending Medicaid, privatizing the Veterans Administration, eliminating the Department of Education (and maybe the Departments of the Interior, HUD, and/or Energy). Though I haven’t had a chance to double-check, one source notes that only one Republican candidate for Senate believes that global warming is real. Many of these and other Republican candidates also have expressed an interest at repealing the 17th Amendment (direct election of Senators rather than election of Senators by the state legislatures) and the 14th Amendment (or at least the birthright citizenship provision of the 14th Amendment). And quite a few have suggested that if the Republicans gain power in the House of Representatives, they will flood the White House with subpoenas (remember the Clinton years and Whitewater?) and even look into impeaching President Obama.

Anyway, just think about what our country may look like if any of these candidates is elected, let alone a majority of them. Add these candidates to the likes of Reps. Paul Broun, Michele Bachmann, Louie Gohmert, Virginia Foxx, and some of the other crazies already in Congress and things could get pretty ugly.


*The Democratic candidate for Senate from Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, was caught lying about his military service. Unlike almost all of the Republican candidates that I mention in this post, Blumenthal has repeatedly apologized and taken responsibility for his statement.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Telling Omission From Dan Coats

Unfortunately (or perhaps, fortunately, I’m not sure…), I was unable to watch last night’s first debate among the candidates vying to become Indiana’s junior Senator. However, as I read some of the coverage of the debate in the paper this morning, one thing really jumped out at me. Here’s a portion of former Sen. Dan Coats’ response regarding health care reform:

This is one of the prime examples of what is wrong with Washington. The Obama administration, supported by Nancy Pelosi and by my opponent, as he has just acknowledged, thought that forcing through a 2,000-page, $1 trillion dollar health-care reform plan for this country rather than focusing on getting Americans back to work…. This was a pent-up, 25-year liberal wish dream when they had the votes to push it through. My opponent was one of those very late votes that brought it to fruition. I have traveled this state and talked to dozens of doctors, dozens of nurses, dozens of practitioners, insurance companies, medical providers and found no one who thinks this is the way to deal with legitimate reforms that have to be made.

I’ll come back to the first part of this statement in a moment. But first, focus on who Sen. Coats says that he talked to about health care reform. Notice anybody missing from his list? Sen. Coats talked to doctors, nurses, practitioners, insurance companies, and medical providers. But you know who I don’t see on the list of people that he talked to about health care reform? Patients. The insured. Those who can’t get insurance. Those who’ve been cut by their insurance provider when they get sick. Kids who are kicked off their parents’ policy before they have been able to get out and get a job. People with pre-existing conditions. Kids with pre-existing conditions.

Sen. Coats talked to those who make money in the health care system, not to those who have to spend money or deal with the health care system. Given his background as a lobbyist, is anybody surprised that he seems to have limited his discussions to the business and profit side of the equation? After all, how many patients can afford lobbyists. How many kids with pre-existing conditions can afford lobbyists. By this one sentence in a debate response, Sen. Coats demonstrated, quite conclusively, who he thinks about, who he wants to elicit information and views from, and who he intends to represent if elected to the Senate. And folks, it ain’t you and me.

A few other things to point out about his response: Sen. Coats complains about the Democrats “forcing through a … $1 trillion dollar health-care reform plan rather than focusing on getting Americans back to work”. First, he doesn’t mention that according to the Congressional Budget Office, the health care reform plan will reduce the deficit. Yes, it will cost money, but in the long run, it will reduce what we’re spending. Second, he fails to acknowledge that lowering health care costs will help put people back to work. Third, though I don’t know for sure, I certainly suspect that Sen. Coats, like almost all of the rest of the Republicans in Congress, would have opposed the Stimulus and other plans designed by the Democrats to help put people back to work. Other than lowering taxes on the richest Americans and giving tax breaks to companies who outsource jobs overseas, what does he plan to do to create jobs?

And finally, I’m really sick of the “forcing through” argument. I’m sorry, but I seem to recall the issue of health care reform being a major issue in the 2008 election, being on the front burner of the discussion for nearly a year, being at the heart of contentious town hall debates in the summer of 2009, and then after the Democrats finally got tired of Republican obstructionism, being the subject of democratic votes in Congress. Debating issues for a year and then voting on them is not “forcing through” a policy; rather, it is letting the democratic process work. Or, I guess we could say that the Bush tax cuts were forced through, too.

What we need to worry about is who Sen. Coats will be working for if he gets elected to Congress. When it comes to health care, he doesn’t seem to be very concerned with the issues facing patients and average Hoosiers. Nope. Sen. Coats is concerned with those who work in the medical or insurance fields and those who are probably funding his campaign and the profits of other lobbyists like him.

By the way: Sen. Coats is 67 years old. He’s eligible for Medicare.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Friday, October 8, 2010

When Politicians Are Forced to Answer Yes/No Questions

How many times have you watched a political debate and felt exasperated because the candidates wouldn’t answer the actual question posed to them? And how many times have you wished that candidates would answer simple yes/no questions with a simple “yes” or “no” without dissembling and trying to obfuscate their response? Well earlier this week, some voters in Indianapolis had a chance to see what happens when candidates are pressed to answer hard questions with a yes or no. And the results, I believe, say much more about each of the candidates than many of their detailed answers to more complicated questions.

On Wednesday, October 6, 2010, the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council hosted a candidate forum. Candidates for the Indiana General Assembly from many districts in and around downtown and the north side of Indianapolis were invited to participate. Thirteen did so. Each of the candidates was given a chance to make a brief opening statement before questions were asked. Unfortunately, because of the number of candidates and the need to give each an opportunity to respond, there was only time for three detailed and substantive questions (how to address Indiana’s fiscal crisis, health care, and immigration).

But after those three questions were asked and answered, the forum moved on to the “Lightning Round”. Before beginning the Lightning Round, the moderator Dr. Judy Failer, professor of Political Science and American Studies at Indiana University, explained to the candidates that they were expected to give “yes” or “no” answers and she even had them practice saying “yes” and “no” before she asked the questions (which had been submitted by members of the audience). Below are videos of four of the five questions (the fifth question asked the candidates if they’d support taxing services to raise funds for education). I apologize for the quality; this was my first time using my iPhone to try to take this kind of video for the web (you may want to turn up the volume to hear better).

The candidates (from left to right) are:

Senate District 29:

Sen. Mike Delph (R), incumbent

Robin Shackleford (D)

House District 86:

Rep. Ed Delaney (D), incumbent

Kurt Webber (R)

House District 88:

Rep. Brian Bosma (R), incumbent, current minority leader

Dr. John Kunzer (D)

House District 92 (note that the Democratic candidate was scheduled to attend, but canceled following the death of his father several days earlier):

Rep. Phil Hinkle (R), incumbent

Jason Sipe (L)

House District 94:

Clint Fultz (R)

Rep. Cherish Pryor (D), incumbent

House District 97:

Rep Mary Ann Sullivan (D), incumbent

House District 99:

Rep. Vanessa Summers (D), incumbent

House District 96:

David Dessauer (R/L) [I’m not sure if Mr. Dessauer is a Republican or Libertarian; he had not RSVP’d for the event and showed up about 15 minutes late and asked to participate]

So on with the questions:

Question #1: Do you believe in evolution?


Question #2: Would you require a woman who is raped to carry the fetus to term?


Question #3: Is global warming real and man made?


Question #4: Do you support civil unions?


I guess that I’m not terribly surprised by the answers to the questions regarding evolution and global warming (though I was a bit taken aback by Kurt Webber’s insistence that his beliefs on these subjects didn’t matter and by the fact that several candidates used responded “I don’t know” to the question of global warming). The suggestion that these issues aren’t meaningful at the state legislative level is nonsense; after all, state legislators can be actively engaged in pollution regulation and carbon control at the state level and are also very much involved in establishing the curriculum for state schools. And for a incumbent legislator to suggest that global warming is “a figment of man’s imagination” tells me precisely how that legislator views science.

And I was somewhat relieved to see that several candidates who weren’t Democrats did support civil unions, though none of the incumbent Republicans did so (including Rep. Bosma who, if the Republicans win control of the House, will become Speaker again). And note that the question was not same-sex marriage, but simply civil unions. So those three Republican incumbents would deny homosexuals the right not only to marry, but also to enter into some kind of lesser union. I’d really like to hear them explain how same-sex marriage, let alone civil unions, threatens their marriages.

But the question (and answers) that absolutely stunned me was whether the candidate would require a woman who is raped to carry the fetus to term. Just think about that proposition for a moment. Short of murder, rape probably the most heinous, vicious crime that can be committed against a person. And yet every single incumbent Republican (with one “pass” – but remember that he said “life begins at the moment of conception to explain his “no” on the evolution question) and each of the Republican candidates, would require a woman who is raped to carry her rapist’s fetus to term. I can’t begin to imagine the anguish that a woman would feel going through pregnancy, knowing that the fetus was the product of a rape. Every time the fetus kicks, the woman would be reminded of the rape. And when the baby is delivered, what emotion would be preeminent? What of the woman’s husband, knowing that the child is not his, but that of someone who assaulted his wife? And what are we to do with the baby, once delivered? I’m sure that the callous would simply say, “if you don’t want it, put it up for adoption,” but I’m sure those same people are the ones who aren’t willing to appropriate sufficient funds to care for those children and probably would oppose a same-sex couple from adopting the product of a rape. Oh, and I note that all of those Republicans are men.

I understand that abortion can be a complex and controversial issue, but the fact that so many Republicans have veered so far to the right that they are no longer even interested in exceptions for rape (and what about incest?) tells me quite a bit of what I need to know to understand the worldview of these candidates.

Keep these answers in mind when you go to the polls in November.

Labels: , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

A Plea to Vote (for Democrats)

We’ve been hearing quite a bit about the “enthusiasm gap” or the fact that Democrats are demoralized and, therefore, might not go to the polls in November. If Democrats stay home and allow Republicans to take control, it will be a classic case of cutting off a nose to spite a face (you know, I never really understood that cliché…). There are a few things to think about heading into the upcoming election.

When you think about the current economic reality facing our country, ask yourself this: Are we in economic hard times because of Republicans or Democrats? Before answering, remember that we’ve spent hundreds of billions (maybe even a trillion now) on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq while giving tax cuts. (Oh, and don’t forget that Republicans passed laws that makes bankruptcy more difficult for consumers and givens credit card companies more opportunities to recover money from consumers filing bankruptcy.)

If economic woes continue, which party do you think will do the most to create jobs and to help those hit hardest by the economic slowdown? Recall that during President Bush’s administration (and the 6 years that Republicans controlled Congress, job creation stagnated before falling off a cliff). Since President Obama took office, job creation has improved; it isn’t where it should be, but at least it appears to be headed (slowly) in the right direction. And remember that it was Republicans who refused to extend unemployment insurance benefits and who talk about phasing out or privatizing Social Security.

Or think of it this way: Had Republicans been in charge for the last two years, would the economy be better or worse now? I know that people are frustrated with the stimulus; it didn’t create as many jobs as we all might have hoped. But it did create jobs (despite Republican lies to the contrary). What would the economic outlook be now had that stimulus not flowed into the system? Or try this thought exercise: Had Republicans not obstructed everything that the Democrats tried to do during the last two years, might things be even better now? Do we want to reward the Republicans for obstructionism by giving them the chance to drive us right back into the economic ditch?

Do you really think that those making more than $1,000,000 per year need a massive tax cut? Are they going to spend it to give you a job or are they going to sock it away in a hedge fund?

I’m not happy with the results we’ve seen in the last two years. But my unhappiness is not a function of the Democratic policies being the wrong ones; rather, my unhappiness is a function of the fact that Republicans stymied Democratic efforts to make things even better. Remember when Rush Limbaugh said that he wanted President Obama to fail? Well, isn’t that exactly the goal that Republicans have worked at since the inauguration? And if you think that President Obama has failed, ask yourself whether he’s failed because of his policy goals and those of Congress or if he’s failed because failure was the strategy that Rush and Glenn Beck and Fox News have pursued with willful glee?

And now we’re also getting to witness the results of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United as unlimited amounts of anonymous money (including foreign money) are flooding the system to help elect candidates. Does it come as any surprise that this flood of money is favoring Republicans by a 7-1 margin? And recall that Republicans blocked the bill that would have forced disclosure of the identity of these anonymous funding sources. How can individual voters keep up with corporations (including foreign corporations) that can pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the system?

I worry about how much worse things may get if we give Republicans control this November. I worry that Republican victories will simply embolden tea partiers and their violent and racist rhetoric even more; after all, if their conduct is seen to “work” in 2010, then just imagine what they’ll do for the 2012 Presidential election!

Oh, and one more thing for Hoosier voters to think about. Next spring the Indiana General Assembly will be redrawing Indiana’s political districts (both for Congress and the General Assembly). Right now, the House and Senate are divided. Democrats have no hope to take the Senate because those districts are so badly gerrymandered that Democrats will remain a perpetual minority in that chamber. If Republicans take control of the House, they may be able to do the same thing to the House. Think about how few competitive local races we have. Well that could be even worse if Republicans take control. So even if you’re not excited (or scared) about what may happen in Washington, think about what may happen here in Indianapolis. If Republicans control both chambers in the Indiana General Assembly, social issue legislation will likely push Indiana from the 20th Century back to the 19th. I’d like to see Democrats in control so that maybe, just maybe, Indiana can enter the 21st Century.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Newer›  ‹Older