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RNC Day 3 – Convention Cop

By Deliciously Geek
Guest Blogger and Women’s Historian

So in what could only be called “a tragic failure to refuse” I blindly agreed to be Thursday’s “Convention Cop” for WRUN. No doubt the admins could have found someone a little more passionate, a little more knowledgeable about politics  – but on what should be the biggest night of the convention, with Romney speaking for himself finally, you lovely lot have little old me.

I am not a politician, an activist, or even a partisan – I’m first a feminist and an historian. And what you get in response to tonight’s RNC coverage will no doubt reflect those perspectives.

To begin with, the Reagan-worshipping Gingriches, Newt and the ever-plastic Callista compared Romney’s popularity to the actor-turned-president. This was followed by the inevitable Carter-Obama comparison and how, during each of their terms, neither was able to turn around the government they had been handed- which is probably the most important overlooked fact of the entire rhetoric. Carter inherited his government from Gerald Ford, perhaps the most accidentally-comedic president since Taft; Ford himself had inherited a broken, war-scarred government, and he was inept at worst, unprepared at best. Obama inherited a country which had spent seven years fighting a “war on terror” that it was nowhere near to winning. Not once has anyone given a thought about where the country had come from before Democrats such as Carter, Clinton, and Obama were elected.

Have the Gingriches, and those who are like-minded, completely forgotten the principles of Reaganomics? I suppose I can offer a quick refresher: In 1980, Reagan proposed a phased-in 30% tax cut, the bulk of which would be concentrated in the upper-income brackets. This focus on those who had the most wealth was based on the idea that they would spend more, which would in turn boost the middle-income economy, causing them to spend more and boost the lower-income economy. This supposed “trickle-down theory” was meant to stimulate the entire economy from the top down. The key word here was trickle- that’s all that was left when it finally reached those of the lowest income brackets. Under Reagan, the economy fluctuated wildly, and that paired with trillions in defense spending caused the largest deficit the country had ever seen: the national debt tripled between 1980 and 1988.

…And this is the America the GOP wants to restore? “The decade of greed” is best left to the history and economics books. We are no longer at war with a gas-giant like the Soviet Union. We are no longer trying to quash Communism at every corner. Ladies (and the occasional gentleman), we are only fighting the legacy of those years.

Whew – that got deep. Let’s bring in the comic relief – Mr. Clint Eastwood! Now, I love me some Eastwood – Dirty Harry, the Good the Bad and the Ugly, Any Which Way but Loose – but I’m wondering who thought it would be a good idea to allow him to speak tonight. He might have had a few amusing things to say, but frankly, he just looked ridiculous talking to the empty chair he kept affectionately referring to as “Mr. President.” Get this man a handler – that would make MY day.

Eastwood awkwardly segued to Mark Rubio, the former VP-would be hopeful from Florida. As early as last fall, I even conceded that the smart move would be to choose Rubio as a running mate – he had the melting pot written all over him. The problem, I think, is that Rubio comes from Florida, that state of dangling chad and Jeb Bush. While his ethnic background might have been a boon, his political background and experience might have been more of a hindrance.  So let’s hear him speak about not being chosen, and why we should believe Romney is the man for the mission.

Rubio’s focus seemed to be twofold: you can come from nothing and become something; and our path to economic salvation is by trusting in god. Time for an ethics lesson and an history lesson.

Couched in a number of similar phrases, Rubio said, “[Obama] tells Americans that they’re worse off because others are better off. That people got rich by making others poor”. This is a cold, harsh truth of capitalism: one cannot prosper, under capitalist theory, without someone else falling into poverty. In order for a capitalist economy to function properly, there must be always be some small percentage of unemployment, some percentage of the population in abject poverty, in order to keep the cost of commodities (food, land, and even labor itself) down and market prices even. Not a pretty picture if you spend time considering just how much we Americans value our “enlightened capitalist” views.

Now the history lesson:
Rubio eventually claimed that “America was founded on the principle that every person has God-given rights.” The problem here is that America was founded on the principles of the Enlightenment: there is a natural order to the universe, and as human beings we are granted natural rights which include life, liberty, and property. We have the right to self-government; we have the right to form a government as a way to protect those rights, in order to advance humanity and society as a whole, with the full knowledge that we give up some of our natural rights in order to form said government. Our founding fathers were faithful students of the Enlightenment, not religious men, who wanted nothing more than for the white landed males to find happiness (self-actualization) within a self-administered government. The original motto of our country was E Pluribus Unum – “one from many”- referring to the unifying of the various colonies into one federal unit. There was no mention of god or trust, just the firm assertion that in solidarity there is strength.

Perhaps Rubio could take a pointer from that lesson – his speech was very much about himself, not about what his party could do for this country. He wasn’t priming the audience for Romney. He was promoting himself for 2016.

But because we are still mired in 2012, Romney made his grand entrance like the great white bride making her short-lived but glorious voyage down the aisle. Thankfully, there were no hideously dressed bridesmaids… I take that back. There was this guy.

Romney’s speech was perhaps best summed up when he said “I was born in the middle of the century in the middle of the country” – he could have stopped there and we would have all come to the same conclusion: Romney is middle of the road. His delivery was clearly rehearsed, perhaps coached by Mr. Cleaver, and it seemed as if applause and laugh tracks were timed appropriately. He predictably emphasized Obama’s shortcomings in the last few years, he managed to say many words with little substance, and he made promises that he will no doubt be unable to keep should he be elected. That is the lot of politicians.

However, the tame, controlled Romney was briefly overcome when he got to the following: “What America needs is jobs. Lots of jobs.” No one can argue with that – our unemployment rate is uncomfortable at best; middle-aged experienced employees are competing with college-dropouts for retail and entry-level positions at the most base rate of pay. Romney worked himself into a frenzy by the time he got to “by 2020, North America will be energy independent by taking full advantage of our oil and coal and gas and nuclear and renewables” and he topped it off with the icing of Republican cake: “I will protect the sanctity of life. I will honor the institution of marriage. And I will guarantee America’s first liberty: the freedom of religion.” Freedom of, or freedom from? Romney ended his appearance with a group prayer after the children and grandchildren had been trotted out for public adoration.

This has been called Romney’s “speech of his life” – but not for its content or its promise. This was a speech about his life, about Romney the man, and his obviously passionate views about his family and his values. In anyone else, this might be admirable. In a politician, this can be terrifying – especially in a politician who seems to have studied acting under Hugh Beaumont or Robert Young.  As I watch and listen to Romney speak, I keep thinking he’s playing a politician. He sounds…fake.  Perhaps he really, truly, fundamentally believes what he’s saying, but his delivery comes across like an overblown Will Ferrell role.  And honestly, this shakes my very soul – we put an actor in the White House once. Look at what happened. Look. Carefully.


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Planting the Seeds of Incipient Democracy: Five Women who changed American politics before 1900

By Deliciously Geek
Women’s Historian
Special Guest Blogger

We are all no doubt familiar with the names of women who fought for equal rights and equal suffrage: Carrie Chapman Catt, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton are just a few who come to mind. But what about those who came before them? While the late 19th century was a hotbed of political activity for and by women as they embraced the role of “municipal housewife”, the foundation was laid even as women were stepping off the Mayflower in search of religious and political freedom.

Anne Hutchinson on Trial by Edwin Austin Abbey

First among these early political pioneers was Anne Hutchinson. Wife and mother of twelve, Anne arrived in Boston in 1634 with the impression that she and her family would be free to express themselves without censure by the government for their Puritan beliefs. She found, quickly, that she was wrong; rather than finding equality within her religion, she found that she was required first to answer to her husband and church and then to God. In response, Anne began to hold semiweekly meetings to share her beliefs- which were in some conflict with the Puritan church’s doctrine – and eventually amassed a small following of those who agreed with her “religious politics.” Her influence was so great that during the 1637 elections, her party very narrowly lost to the Winthrop party; the ultimate result was excommunication from the Puritan church and exile from the Massachusetts Bay colony. Anne’s only crime was being a woman in philosophical conflict with the local governing body.

Not long after the events in Boston, Margaret Brent arrived in Maryland to claim a land grant from Lord Baltimore. She immediately established herself as a prominent entrepreneur and attorney-in-fact, acting on behalf of her brother and occasionally for Lord Baltimore, and as a proprietress in her own right she was accorded a position in the Maryland Palatinate Assembly. Eventually Margaret was named the executrix of Governor Leonard Calvert’s estate, which included his seat in the Assembly as well. In 1648, Brent opted to finally exercise her right to both seats, which included both a “voice and vote” each. She was denied the votes because of her sex; the Assembly conceded her right to at least the voice and seat.

Notables such as Abigail Adams and Mercy Otis Warren were activists in the name of their sex during the Revolutionary period, after which there was a tacit moratorium on women’s rights. Suffrage, such as it existed in America’s infancy, was in fact granted to women in certain territories until those rights were revoked in 1807 following scandals associated with local elections. However, women were not politically silent during those years. Between 1807 and 1838, women with an interest in their federal and local governments began to organize partisan rallies and parades, petitioned state legislatures, canvassing on the part of candidates, and editing and writing for partisan publications.

Engraving of Elizabeth Oakes Smith.

Which is what Elizabeth Oakes Smith found herself doing in 1850. Elizabeth’s husband, Seba Smith, was editor of the Eastern Argus and later the Portland Daily Courier, to both of which Elizabeth had been known to contribute. However, it was her New York Tribune series “Woman and Her Needs” (1850-1851) which brought attention once again to the issue of national suffrage for women. While several states and territories had restored some suffrage rights to women by 1850 – set into motion by granting school suffrage rights to widows with children in Kentucky – there was still a lot of ground to cover, as evidenced by the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention. Elizabeth’s series was a call to arms for women to rise up and consider their plight: “The world needs the action of Woman throughout its destinies.”

And women were heeding that call. Anna Dickinson, that “Quaker lass”, was so firm in her beliefs about abolition and women’s suffrage that she addressed Congress directly in 1864 – something which had never been done before by a woman. Her arguments were so persuasive and eloquent that she became a direct influence on the results of the 1863 Congressional elections.

As critical as women were during the ante- and post-bellum periods in terms of political activism, it wasn’t until after the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments- which, respectively, abolished slavery, defined citizenship, and defended the right to vote for “citizens of the United States” regardless of race, colour, or “previous condition of servitude” – that women discovered that they had truly were second-class citizens. Because the 14th Amendment defined citizenship as “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States”, the hue and cry went up to exercise the rights which were clearly protected by the 15th Amendment – rights which were summarily dismissed by the male-populated governments because it was never intended for women to vote, regardless of their citizenship, race, colour, and gender.

Photograph of Myra Bradwell taken circa 1870 by C.D. Mosher

No one was better equipped to challenge these unspoken prohibitions than Myra Colby Bradwell. The first woman to be admitted to the bar in Illinois, Myra began her legal education as her husband’s apprentice and then later as founder and editor of the Chicago Legal News. She penned the Illinois Married Women’s Property Act (1861) and Earnings Act (1869), which gave married women individual rights to their personal property and funds earned through work. In 1869, Myra applied to the Illinois State Bar for her license to practice law in her own name; she was summarily denied on the grounds that as a married woman, she was legally prohibited from entering into legal contracts on her own. She brought her case before the Illinois State Supreme Court, where she was denied admittance to the legal profession because of her sex; and again in 1873, claiming that her 14th Amendment rights were being ignored, she went before the United States Supreme Court to appeal her case; she was summarily denied her license again. Rather than work against a legal system which was obviously not supporting her rights, Myra focused on her newspaper and becoming an activist for women’s rights, honing her abilities as a student and writer of law. In 1890, the Illinois State Supreme Court acted on its own accord (and in accordance with a law the court itself passed in 1872 which prohibited discrimination from employment based on gender) and reversed its initial decision of 1870, granting Myra the right to practice law in Illinois.

As we all know, women were granted the vote in 1920 – thirty years after Myra Bradwell was given her license to practice law, and nearly 300 years after Anne Hutchinson first challenged the patriarchal stronghold of the Puritan Massachusetts Bay Colony. The journey from first heterodoxical thought to 93 women currently serving in Congress, 9 incumbent female governors, and countless female local and state officials has been tumultuous, fiery, and occasionally violent; but at the end of the day, it has been rewarding and enriching not only for women, but for American society as a whole.

All images are public domain and courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


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RNC Day 2 – Convention Cop

WRUN Admin Pattie here, on “Convention Cop” duty for this evening. The idea of “Convention Cop” is to follow the evening’s speeches, actions and events and provide fact-checking, instant reactions, thoughts, and opinions. Though the opinions are my obviously own, bleeding heart liberal that I am, I aim to stay fair on the facts. Now we know that the Romney/Ryan team isn’t too fond of fact checkers but I will bravely soldier on!

A quick word about me, in the interest of full disclosure: I have not been able to watch a full night of the RNC since 1992, when Pat Buchanan’s keynote speech opened my 16-year-old eyes to a lot of things about the Republican Party that I could not see myself associating with politically. Two years later, when I registered to vote in my first election, it was Buchanan’s voice echoing in my head as I checked the box for ‘Democrat.’ So it’s pretty much a given that I’m going to find things to disagree with tonight but that’s what living in a republic (small r) is all about.

So here we go, my first RNC night in 20 years.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 – RNC Evening Line-up of Speakers:

7 p.m.:

Call to order

Introduction of Colors by Amputee Veterans of America Support Team

Pledge of Allegiance by Brig. Gen. Patrick E. Rea, U.S. Army (Ret.)

National Anthem sung by Ayla Brown

Invocation by Ishwar Singh

Ron Paul video

Remarks by Senate Republican leader and Convention Temporary Chairman Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Remarks by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

Remarks by Christopher Devlin-Young and Jeanine McDonnell

8 p.m.:

Remarks by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Remarks by Attorney General Pam Bondi, R-Fla., Attorney General Sam Olens, R-Ga.

Remarks by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.

Remarks by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio

9 p.m.:

Remarks by Gov. Luis Fortuño, R-Puerto Rico

Remarks by former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, R-Minn.

Bush 41, 43 film

Remarks by former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark.

10 p.m.:

Remarks by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

Remarks by Gov. Susana Martinez, R-N.M.

Remarks by vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

Benediction by Archbishop Demetrios

Adjournment

Hmmmm, I don’t recall the nightly agendas at the 1992 Convention being quite this long. I’m going to need more caffeine.

Reaction to remarks from Mitch McConnell, R-Ky:

Quote: “We know what the president’s got on his iPod, but we don’t know what he plans to do about a looming tax hike that could trigger yet another serious recession that would result in even more Americans losing their jobs.”

OK, McConnell neglects to mention that the 112th Congress has had the President’s jobs plan – the American Jobs Act – since September of 2011 and has done exactly bupkiss -not even any meaningful debate – with it ever since. They were too busy voting the repeal the Affordable Care Act over 30 times and naming post offices.

Reaction to the Bush 41 and Bush 43 Tag Team Appeal for Mitt Romney:

Seriously? Could they have found former world leaders who have LESS credibility on foreign policy than these two? OK, maybe not 41 as much as 43 but 43 skews things A LOT. He makes Romney’s disastrous overseas trip look GOOD. Hey, maybe that was the intent?

Also, if the GOP had their flashy deficit clocks running during the entire Bush 43 Administration, it would have ticked up to the tune of $5 trillion. Just saying.

Reaction to remarks by Senator John McCain:

Hey remember when McCain was considered a moderate? When he worked with Senate Dems to get stuff done? When he almost switched parties (yeah, that really almost happened)? When he stood up to the Bush Administration on torture? When he talked about for President running on a one-term pledge? I kinda liked that guy. The guy who’s speaking now, not so much.

McCain says he “trusts” Romney on foreign policy but doesn’t elaborate. (Maybe he can elaborate on why, after seeing ten years of Romney’s tax returns in 2008, he chose Sarah Palin as his running mate.) Back to foreign policy, he’s slamming Obama on Syria and Afghanistan but Romney’s policy proposals are essentially the same. Doesn’t acknowledge that Obama directed the operation that killed Bin Laden after Bush 43 gave up trying.

Still McCain said, “The president has discouraged our friends and emboldened our enemies.” How exactly? No details.

On domestic issues, let’s not forget that McCain said earlier this year that the GOP war on women does not exist. He doesn’t talk domestic policy much tonight, though, which is interesting given that he ran for President only four years ago.

I’m bummed. I respected the John McCain that lived through Hell for our country and treated his job in the Senate as a privilege and not a right. I miss that guy. I don’t know who the one who spoke tonight is anymore.

Random Observation:

In addition to the “we can change it” theme, GOP speakers tonight keep talking about how America is a meritocracy and people can still succeed based on their abilities, not their connections. So far they’ve tried to make that point by highlighting the late Governor George Romney of Michigan and his son, the GOP nominee for President. Ron and Rand Paul, the father-son team of legislators, and former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Hmmmm. Maybe missed the mark on that?

Reaction to remarks from Rand Paul:

Interesting that the younger Paul had no ideological issues with endorsing Romney, even though his father Ron Paul did not do the same. Perhaps it had something to do with delegates in the crowd shouting “Paul 2016!” when Paul the Younger took the stage. Awk-ward!

Rand quote: “We have nothing to fear except our own unwillingness to defend what is naturally ours, our God-given rights. We have nothing to fear that should cause us to forget or relinquish our rights as free men and women.”

Since you brought it up, Rand, how does that statement inform your opposition to the Civil Rights Act and other civil rights legislation? I’m just curious.

Update: Apparently the Ron Paul delegates walked out en masse from the convention floor after the Ron Paul video and Rand Paul’s speech. Guess you can cross that chorus of “Kumbaya off the evening’s agenda.

Reaction to remarks from Pam Biondi:

The GOP’s new golden girl. Spent Florida’s taxpayer funds fighting the Affordable Care Act and therefore seems to hold a grudge against one Supreme Court Justice Roberts. Also hates the Roe v. Wade decision with the burning fire of a thousand suns. In her speech tonight, Biondi  repeats the common GOP assertion that our military doesn’t fight for universal health care. (Has she asked them? Because I have and guess what? Soldiers are big fans of health care for everyone because they’ve seen firsthand what happens when people don’t have it.) Alas, none of this matters to the RNC delegates on Twitter who only seem to care that Biondi is “hot.” Sigh.

Reaction to remarks from Senator John Thune:

OK, as a first generation American myself I take HUGE offense at lawmakers who trot out sepia-toned tales of their immigrant ancestors coming to this country to “work hard” but then support legislation that treats contemporary immigrants like criminals. Getting Buchanan 1992 flashbacks.

Reaction to remarks from Senator Rob Portman:

Portman asks where’s Obama’s jobs bill? Ummm, sitting in Congress since September 2011. We’ve been over this. Check underneath the pile of anti-woman legislation you guys have been proposing. See it? To the left. Oh wait, that’s the problem.

Reaction to remarks from Gov. Tim Pawlenty:

Quote: “I’ve come to realize that Barack Obama is the tattoo president. Like a big tattoo, it seemed cool when you were young.”

Huh? I hope they weren’t banking on Pawlenty shoring up the youth vote. Overall, His speech was a series of disjointed pot shots at Obama and Biden, stand up comic style. No need to fact check because the entire speech seemed entirely uncontaminated by facts. Hence the prime speaking spot, I suppose. Moving on….

Reaction to remarks from Former Governor Mike Huckabee:

Well, he kicked off the speech with a tasteless joke about DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz so it can only go uphill, right? Fingers crossed. Also, calling the RNC a “perfect week” when cities and towns on the Gulf Coast are being pounded by a hurricane, 60% of New Orleans is without power, and thousands of people have evacuated their homes? Classy, Mike. Very classy. Doesn’t anyone vet these damn speeches?

And there’s that pesky “war and religion” line about the Affordable Care Act that completely ignores the exceptions that religious organizations receive. The line is a two-fer because it stealthily revives the “Obama is a Muslim” myth that the right loves so much without having to state it explicitly. Ever notice that when Republicans insist there is a “war on religion” they ignore a bunch of religions that aren’t Christianity?

Huckabee, a vocal Akin supporter, actually tried to attack Obama on women’s rights. Yeah, he actually did. After he opened with a crass joke about a female legislator. I stand corrected, these speeches are vetted by state-of-the-art GOP-designed software: MaxMisogyny version 2.12.

Reaction to remarks from former Secretary of State Condelezza Rice:

9/11 and the Iraq War? Seriously? You’re going to lead with that? And she’s attacking Obama on Syria when a) the GOP itself is split on the issue and refuses to engage Obama on Syria and b) Romney’s Syria policy is pretty much the same. Why exactly is the GOP focusing so much on Syria?

Head-scratching moment, expanding school vouchers are a civil rights issue? Huh? So that schools can become even MORE segregated? You lost me there, Condi. There is no logic to that statement. (More disclosure: both my husband and I work in public education, he at a public high school, while I am at a community college.)

Overall, Rice’s speech is the most moderate of the night so far (but remember we are grading on a steep curve). Remember when the GOP had moderates? Also, seemingly every Democrat on Twitter points out that despite numerous references to the Iraq War and 9/11, Rice fails to mention that the Obama Administration directed the raid on Bin Laden. Did she and McCain compare speeches beforehand?

Reaction to remarks from Governor Susana Martinez:

Your mileage may vary on this but this one came off to me as the same speech as Thune, only with some parts in Spanish. Why do they think the rules that allowed their immigrant ancestors to succeed in this country should not apply to contemporary immigrants?

Reaction to remarks from Rep. Paul Ryan, VP nominee:

Kicks off speech by again blaming Obama for the closure of a Wisconsin GM plant that closed under Bush 43, fact checkers be damned!

Speaking of facts: Ryan’s bitching about the debt when most of it was created by the two wars, tax cuts, and spending plans he voted for under Bush 43. And by the way, he won’t support a plan to generate revenue (from taxes) to pay down said debt.

Vows to win the Medicare debate because his mom was a role model? Ummm, what about the moms who rely on Medicare and can’t afford to have it gutted and so they end up paying more? Where do they shake out in that plan?

Obligatory attack on the Affordable Care Act. No acknowledgement on the similarity to Romneycare. Makes me wonder how Romney is going to manage to simultaneously bash and take credit for government health care in his speech tomorrow. I have no doubt that he’s going to try. There are very few issues that Romney does not try to be on both sides of, publicly.

Quote: “Mitt and I also go to different kinds of churches but best kind of preaching is done by example.”

Really? What did Jesus say about helping the poor again?

OK, now we are talking about protecting the weak? With a straight face he’s saying that? Because his voting record and the very budget plan that bears his name is pretty “weak” on protecting the weak, poor, etc. So much so that faith leaders called it “immoral. Oh, and if someone is sick and needs, say, health care, don’t they need protection? No, not according to Ryan. Avowed Ayn Rand follower is preaching to us about protecting the weak. You read that right. It’s a good thing I was already sitting down. 

For a being part of campaign that doesn’t want to be dictated by fact checkers, Paul Ryan just gave fact checkers a lot to do. None of them are sleeping tonight. 

He’s done. At last.

I’m not going to make a joke and say that this was several hours of my life I’m not getting back because I do think this was worthwhile. I think as a voter, it’s important to take time to listen to the lawmakers you disagree with, not only to know what they believe but to really examine what you believe. I still believe that I could not be a member of the Republican Party, which was pretty much the same conclusion I came to 20 years ago. That said, I also think it’s important to know that I am not the same person I was 20 years ago and this is certainly not the same GOP of 1992. As mentioned above, the GOP of 1992 still had  many moderates, such as Arlen Specter and (at the time) John McCain. The Republican leadership at the time made the calculated decision to give Pat Buchanan and the extreme right of the party a starring role at the convention. A decision that many analysts now agree was a mistake.

Today I feel that that moderates are largely gone from the party, voted out or muted by the Tea Party. The views that were considered the “fringe” of the GOP in 1992 are now the mainstream. The Republicans I respected and felt would work with the Democrats to move on issues now get tossed out in primaries. Congress in session (because Mark Twain would roll over in his grave if I said “action”) is now very hard to distinguish from the spectacle of a national political convention. People making speeches, blasting opponents for doing nothing, and essentially doing nothing themselves. Honestly, if the delegates had decided to rename some post offices on the convention floor tonight, they would have likely matched the productivity level of the 112th Congress.

Will the Democrats do better in North Carolina? Obviously I’m biased but I am curious to see how their VP nominating night contrasts with tonight. If you are too, tune in next week. I’m going to stock up on caffeine and try this again.

Thanks for reading, please share your thoughts in the comments here or on our Facebook page.

 


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by Jamie Utitus,
Guest Blogger, nj.com

I have to admit, I am intrigued, maybe even star struck with the Nuns on the Bus. Lead by NETWORK’s Executive Director, Sister Simone Campbell (I imagine her actually driving the bus and I smile), the Catholic sisters made me feel like I’m not-so-alone for being a Christian while also being vehemently opposed to Republicans war on America; more specifically women and civil liberties.

Just recently they put this up on their site:

“As Catholic Sisters, we must speak out against the current House Republican budget, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). We do so because it harms people who are already suffering.

The Ryan Budget would:

Raise taxes on 18 million hardworking low-income families while cutting taxes for millionaires and big corporations.

Push the families of 2 million children into poverty.

Kick 8 million people off food stamps and 30 million off health care.”

I remember watching Sister Simone Campbell during an interview where she, more or less, was denouncing the Republican platform, but the overwhelming feeling that I walked away was, warmth and love. She was not denouncing conservatives and condemning them to hell, there was no hate or mudslinging. She was incredibly smart, and incredibly focused on the poor and needy in the U.S; not hateful or hysterical.

I walked away shaking my head, almost in disbelief while muttering, “Amen. Amen? Amen!” Hallelujah, the poor and the needy. This was what Jesus called us to do.

NETWORK, a Catholic National Social Justice Lobby and Nuns on the Bus went on a 9 state tour to spread the good news-as Catholic Sisters, they stand with people in need and to be witnesses for economic justice.

I used to struggle with my Christianity. I loved Jesus, but I hated admitting that out loud. I was a closet Christian. I’d much rather come out as gay, than as a Christian. Many of my friends were gay. Or atheists, or gay atheists, or Jews or Muslim. When people say the words, “I am a Christian,” people tend to think of Harold Camping predicting the end of the world.

So, I cannot tell you how much it meant to me listen to Sister Simone Campbell and to witness her and the NETWORK lobby for America’s impoverished and most needy. They had me at hello. At the tippy top of the Nuns on the Bus site it reads: Jesus said, “You will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judea and Samaria, and indeed to earth’s remotest end.” (Acts 1:8)

When the federal government cuts funding to programs that serve people in poverty, the sisters see first-hand the effects in their daily work. Simply put, they see real people suffer.

When you, or maybe I should say “I”, think of nuns, I think of the Catholic Church. I think of them voting anti-abortion, anti-birth control, and anti-gay marriage.

So, where do the nuns stand on issues that the Vatican considers ‘crucial’ like abortion and same sex marriage? Well, they’ve been very busy focusing on social injustices and feeding the hungry. Too busy according to the Vatican. Church leaders accused the nuns of promoting “radical feminist” ideas for spending too much time on social injustices and challenging key teachings on homosexuality and male-only priesthood.

“To me, it’s quite puzzling that our work with the poor, which Jesus told us to do in the gospels, would be the source of such a criticism,” says Sister Simone Campbell.

Take note how Sister Campbell omitted same-sex marriage in her mention of the Gospels. She did this for a reason. Jesus came and said many things, but not a one about homosexuality.

He was very clear, however, about serving the poor. Social injustices made him angry, so angry he would flip over tables and lose his marbles and put the church leaders of the day in their place. He was also very clear that you cannot serve Him and serve money and wealth. The party that claims to do all things in His name, happens to be the wealthiest. And they propose to pass legislation to keep it that way.

The sisters are sticking with Jesus, with his call to all Christians, to serve the poor and the needy. Amen!

A right wing conservative Christian called me a socialist because of my support for Obamacare. I’m fairly certain she, literally, believes Obama is the antichrist. I responded, “Then I believe Jesus and his Pops were socialists too. I feel warm and cozy knowing I’m in such good company.” This sent her over the edge, I was an abomination to Christianity and was indeed going to hell.

But I’ll be in some good company. Even some sisters, like Campbell, have gone against orders from the bishops and supported Obama’s healthcare reform law and mandate. Sister Campbell says she believes the Vatican targeted her group because of their support for healthcare reform. “They like it when we just do service, but don’t have thoughts, don’t have questions, don’t have criticism,” Campbell says. “That is a real challenge in a political society, when we have to do a deep, nuanced analysis in order to know the way forward for this, for the common good.”

Sadly, this is the year of 2012, the year of the Presidential GOP Platform to Wage War on Women, I guess it is no surprise that the sisters would be targeted as well. My heart bleeds for these sisters who seek to serve the church and do God’s will, but I am honored to stand in solidarity with such noble creatures. All too often I am associated with Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann, and yes, even the occasional Harold Camping, for being a Christian.

As Women Rise Up Now had previously mentioned, by last count, the 112th sent only 54 bills to the President, 14 of which were to rename post offices (the latter of which is ironic since one of the main items this Congress failed to do was come up with a plan to restructure the struggling U.S. Postal Service). They also failed to take any action on the economy (despite having the President’s proposed jobs plan in their laps since last year) and failed to come up with a federal response plan to the worst drought this nation has seen since the Dust Bowl. Instead, they chose to spend their time-Trying to block the Affordable Care Act, obsessing about birth control coverage, and trying to limit abortion rights.

As a Christian, I worry about the hungry, the impoverished and it pains me to see Congress, and Presidential Platforms hiccupping over birth control. People call me a socialist for wanting all people, especially children and those with pre-existing conditions to have access to healthcare. As a Christian, it’s the heart of who I am. As a woman who has Multiple Sclerosis, it’s at the heart of who I am.

I cringed watching Ann Romney speak about her MS. The fact that she wants to be the first lady to a party that opposes health care for all, pains me. How convenient that she opposes Obamacare and could buy an entire hospital just for herself. She will never have to worry about her $8,000 a month infusions not being paid for so that her legs will work.

I understand that some religions are truly against same-sex marriage. My religion is not. Some, for religious reasons are wholeheartedly opposed to birth control and abortion. I understand and respect that. Don’t marry same sex couples at your church. Don’t have an abortion and pray for those who do.

If you are against something for religious beliefs, I support that. Our constitution supports that as well. It pains me to see the right claim to represent all Christians. Then they get indignant that not all Americans have those beliefs. We are a pluralistic country that represents many different beliefs, some of those beliefs being non-belief.

So indignant that they vow to take back ‘their’ America and pass legislation that will amend the Constitution to define a marriage as one man and one woman. Romney wants to do away with birth control altogether. On August 1st, Rep. Mike Kelly’s compared women receiving expanded heath care coverage, which includes a mandate that requires insurance plans to cover birth control options, to the attacks of Pearl Harbor and the September 11, 2001 attacks. Really?

The most frustrating part for me, as a citizen and a Christian, is wondering why this party, who must be well-schooled in how this whole U.S. Constitution thing came to be, all of a sudden, feels entitled to take down the wall between religion and nation that our forefathers’ took great pains to resurrect. It’s there because they understood, and experienced first-hand, the dangers of mixing the two.

I’m very afraid for our country. I pray for guidance. I pray for the sisters and the work that they do. But more importantly, I pray that you have the right to choose to pray or not. I pray for your right to choose birth control or to have an abortion. I pray that same-sex couples know that there are churches in this great country of ours that celebrate and welcome them. And I pray that our government stops deflecting from the biggest, most significant issue at stake-the economy.

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12/17/13 Editor’s Note – If you love the Sisters and their work, please read this short article about the upcoming documentary about them and a small way that you can participate, here.


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John Brunner For Senate… Again!

Part Two of Our Todd Akin Coverage
by My Alternate Universe Teabagger Twin

You know, I’ve had my differences with Sarah Palin in the past.  She thinks we should focus on getting the America-hating Muslim terrorists, I think we should focus on getting the terror-loving Muslim terrorists.  She feels we should be able to hunt wolves from helicopters, I think we should be using prop-planes.  There’s no doubt a gap to be bridged there.  But I’ve got to say, I think she has the right idea when she suggested that one of the Republicans who didn’t manage to defeat Todd Akin in the primaries should totally run as a third party candidate.  Once again, we have a gap here, in that she wants Sarah Steelman and I like John Brunner.  Crazy Sarah, I suspect you just like her because she has the same name as you.  What kind of reason is that to support a candidate for public office? And besides, I need a MAN to tell me what to do with my uterus, because he’s just GOT to know more about how it works than I would.

So let’s have a look at John Brunner, the guy we passed on the first time around.  It’s like the romantic comedy where the girl spends the whole movie chasing the hot football player when the absolute perfect guy for her, the dude that the Democrats have not been spending $2M of their own money to promote, has been right in front of her all along.

Come on, admit it. You would totally shell out to see this movie.

Let’s visit his policy positions and give ourselves a second chance at love:

Big government = grrr.  Check!

Small business = good.  Check!

Taxes = grrr.  Check!

Obamacare = grrr.  Check!

Fetuses = Hooray!  Check!

As a small business owner and former Marine, he possesses two out of the three qualities needed for sainthood in the Republican party.  All he would need to do is change his last name to Reagan.  Middle name would also be acceptable.

And of course, he hates, hates, hates earmarks, and really, who doesn’t?  Even a lot of you worthless, freedom-hating liberals agree with that.

And of course, the most important part is, that he is totally pro-fetus like Todd Akin, but comes without the baggage of actually saying the medieval crap he believes when he’s on TV!  I mean, we all know that you can’t pregnant from rape unless you’re a dirty slut who actually enjoyed it, but you’re not supposed to SAY that on TV!  We can’t afford to have morons like Akin risking the election by making the public aware of what we actually think.  If the twelve remaining “swing voters” in America know that we actually are waging a war on women (and sex, by the way), well.  Can you imagine?  It might actually dissuade a few of them from voting Republican and that could be enough to tip the election, good God!

People, we have a duty here.  We have to ask John Brunner to run as an independent.  Nay, we have to BEG John Brunner to run as an independent.  Those “ivory-tower elites” with their “edjumacation” in the party machinery claim that this would be a disaster because it would split the conservative vote.  But we know better, don’t we, kids?  We know that a true conservative who isn’t stupid enough to actually expose how far back we want to drag women’s rights could be just the person to beat Claire McCaskill and her Obama-loving, freedom-hating, communist-fascist-socialist agenda.  Missouri, and friends all over the country, let’s ask John Brunner to run.  Again. I know, you’re saying, “But he couldn’t beat Todd Akin the first time!” and I’m saying, “Yes, but we didn’t know how effing retarded Todd Akin was back then!”   Come on, people.   That sofa looked nice in the store, but once you get it in the house, it totally doesn’t work with the rug.  We need to return that sofa to the store and get one that doesn’t clash with our décor or expose our true agenda on TV.

Since I know my audience is real conservative, I’m going to clarify:  Todd Akin IS that sofa.  John Brunner is the new sofa.  Akin = sofa.  Sofa = bad.

Brunner for Senate!

http://www.facebook.com/BrunnerForLiberty

@brunnerforMO

Todd Akin – Artist’s conception


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What to Expect When You’re Expecting Ann Romney

by Siobhan Carroll, Guest Blogger
Braevehearts blog

Ann Romney, candidate spouse and known equestrian.

I was on tap to do a recap of today’s RNC events, but as we know Isaac the liberal hurricane is bearing down on the gulf coast, ready to ruffle helmet hair and ruin delegates’ prime time makeup for miles around Tampa. Therefore, Monday’s events consist of the following:

Monday, August 27, 2012

2:00 p.m.         Chairman of the RNC Reince Priebus

Call to Order/Start Debt Clocks

2:10 p.m.         Announcement of Recess

Ten minutes to start the debt clock that will be running outside of a coliseum built with public funds during an event that will cost the republican national committee a couple hundred million dollars. Let’s rename it Hurricane Irony!

So let’s focus a bit on Tuesday – the key speakers of the day are Ann Romney and Chris Christie. This is a fascinating dichotomy- the millionaire housewife and mother, usually demure, always polite vs. New Jersey’s head blowhard. I’m genuinely interested in Ann Romney’s remarks, as I haven’t heard much from her outside of her referring to us as “you people” during her famous tax return comments (right back atcha Anniekins!). It is clear that she is a devoted wife and mother, and Mitt has said he looks to her for advice,  much like Barack does to Michelle. Her speech gives us an opportunity to see what Mitt’s Advisor-in-Chief is really like. Does she rely on their shared Mormon faith for guidance? Does her multiple sclerosis give her a particular empathy for those without healthcare in our country? Does raising five sons mean she takes a keen interest in the education reform?

All signs point to yes, no, and no. She converted to Mormonism to marry Mitt when she was just 20 years old. She was his liaison for federal faith-based initiatives while he was governor of Massachusetts and spear-headed an abstinence based sex education program in the state. It is clear that the Romney’s joint faith is a key not only to their conservative policies but to the political  machinations of the Republican party. Experiences like Ann’s only add to the conservative bona fides of her husband, universal healthcare in Massachusetts be damned.

Now might be a good time for a small but crucial digression. For all the accusations about socialism in the Obama administration, Mormonism is socialistic in nature, much like any organized church. Mormons require their adherents to tithe 10% of their income to the church, which then “redistributes” it primarily to its seat in Salt Lake City and its parishes, known as stakes. What is now known as Deseret Industries and is a thrift store not unlike Goodwill, began as food and clothing pantry for needy Mormons. Many Mormon families contributed their tithe in the form of preserves, canned goods, and clothing, which were then made available to Mormons who came upon hard times. No questions were asked, no payment was accepted; it was the unwritten rule that when you could give back, you did.

Think on that for a moment. From charity born out of the tight-knit Mormon tradition, to today’s discussion of welfare cuts and denial of unemployment benefits- how does that happen? I believe it comes from a bad case of the “Others”. Mormonism has always been considered a fringe religion, despite its nominal Christianity, which would of course breed a sense of being different from the outside world. Some might become insecure with their faith in the face of suspicion from outside, but those who maintained their faith became even more steadfast, more sure of their moral superiority. That’s where I believe we find Mitt and Ann today.

Born of wealth and privilege, they have no sense of what those who are looking to build brighter futures for our families must go through. The costs of education, childcare, gasoline and medical insurance are mere blips to those who think struggling through graduate school means living off the dividends of stock investments made decades earlier by the Governor of Michigan.

Do I think they are sympathetic? Sure. Empathetic? No way. Ann Romney has battled breast cancer and MS. Does she worry about her insurance not covering procedures? My friend had to start a Facebook campaign so her insurance company would continue to cover transfusions that have stonewalled her MS. Highly doubt Mrs. Romney needed to work the phones to get her senator involved in her health issues- after all, she was sleeping with the governor!*

Ann and Mitt’s five boys attended the private Belmont Hill School in Boston. As their father completed Harvard Law and Business schools and moved on to his lucrative career with Bain Capital, it is difficult to see how the Romneys might have given even a cursory glance to the public education system in their hometown, and Mitt’s plan emphasizing school choice over teacher quality and classroom size is the equivalent of putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound.

We can expect a few sure things from Ann on Tuesday night. Lots of talk about what a good man Mitt is. Some awesome anecdotes that I hope are as inadvertently hilarious as the dog on the car roof story. A touching tale told with perhaps with a single tear streaming down her face about Mitt’s steadfast commitment during her illnesses. The entire speech will be intended to connect- to humanize and make us feel something for Ann and Mitt that we haven’t yet before.

And that’s the problem – we feel something for them already. But they don’t feel a damn thing for us.

*this line is kinda rude. I apologize for it, but only a little bit.


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Issue Briefing: Congress’ Attempt to Redefine Rape

Originally posted March 31. 2012


Summary: In 2011, Republicans in the House of Representatives sought to amend a provision in the Hyde Amendment, which bans using Medicaid funds for abortions except in cases of “rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.” The House GOP, seeking to reduce the number of abortions paid for by federal funds, sought to add the word “forcible” before rape. As Nick Baumann pointed out in Mother Jones “[t]his would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion.” The change was proposed Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), a staunch abortion opponent,  as part of H.R.3 – No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.

Basically, the GOP was arguing that rape is not really rape unless there is force involved, and even then, they gave no threshold for their definition of force. In fact, in using the term “forcible rape” – a term that is not defined under federal criminal code – the Representatives opened up the very real possibility that no abortions would be covered under the rape exception. Instances of date rape, or those perpetrated using drugs or alcohol to incapacitate the victim would also fail to meet this new arbitrary criteria.

After an outcry from groups such as MoveOn.org, Emily’s List, a Twitter campaign targeting House Speaker John Boehner, and a flurry of negative media coverage, the House GOP backed down and did not amend the law. The “forcible rape” language resurfaced in May 2011 in another version of  H.R. 3 but did not make it into the draft sent to the Senate.

This attempt to redefine rape in a more stricter sense by the House GOP was notable in that it came at a time that the U.S. Department of Justice was actually broadening its 80-year old legal definition of rape to include more non-consensual sexual acts and to remove gender restrictions. The new broader definition was released in January 2012. Thus the attempt by the House stood out as an even more glaring symbol of the disconnect between the electorate and its elected officials, and specifically between American women and the GOP.

The Definition of Rape In the News:

Recent legislative actions impacting the legal definition of rape:

  1. Find out if your representatives supported this bill in the House and demand accountability.
  2. Share this Issue Briefing with friends, family, and colleagues.
  3. Support national and local advocacy organizations that lobby for real reform to combat rape including:

All information and links as of 3/31/2012.

http://www.facebook.com/womenrise