Thursday, May 22, 2008

Drowning in Failed Policies

We are all feeling the pinch of the failed Bush economic policies of the last seven years. Unemployment is on the rise, and so are food and energy costs. The sub-prime loan crisis is causing record numbers of foreclosures. Working families are in desperate need of relief. This administration has been on a borrow and spend war spree that is destroying our nation’s financial stability, and plunging us so deeply into debt that it will take generations to dig our way out.

It is disheartening to see the NH GOP ready to repeat the same mistakes that have gotten us to this point. Congressional candidate John Stephen recently brought Grover Norquist, of the Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) to NH, so that he could sign Norquist’s pledge against raising taxes. This was a staged tableaux, since Stephen actually signed the pledge in November of 2007, according to the ATR website. Former Congressman Jeb Bradley signed the Norquist pledge in February 2008. Senators Judd Gregg and John Sununu, Jr. have also signed the pledge.

Grover Norquist is most famous for saying, “ My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” This is code for cutting spending on just about everything except defense. We’ve seen the results of that shrinkage - in the failure of the levees around Lake Ponchartrain, in the aftermath of Katrina, where residents did not require a bathtub in order to drown. We saw the results in the collapse of the bridge in Minnesota, which came about because repairs were put off - to save money. The repairs and rebuilding will cost more than the upkeep ever would have. When we choose to pay the pound of cure, it’s a sign that our spending priorities are out of alignment. Federal spending on domestic programs has been shrinking, even as federal spending on defense has skyrocketed. As we borrow billions to fund the war in Iraq, we neglect our own national infrastructure. In addition to risking American lives, this jeopardizes our economic future.

Americans For Tax Reform is a lobbying group that is funded by lavish contributions from special interest groups and conservative foundations. The ATR served as a conduit for funds that Jack Abramoff’s clients donated in order to secretly fund grassroots lobbying campaigns. Norquist’s goal is to eliminate taxes on the wealthy. The Bush tax cuts were a move in that direction. Most of us understand that with taxes we pay for things like roads, bridges, fire and police protection, and education. These are some of the benefits we reap in a civilized society, but they aren’t free. Most of us are willing to pay our fair share, and we think that everyone should, including those who happen to be financially fortunate. Norquist and the GOP leadership are not interested in fairness or equal taxation. They don’t care if the middle class has to pick up the tab - they just want to ensure that the rich don’t see the bill. Warren Rudman, himself no liberal, had this to say about Norquist: "Americans for Tax Reform is a wonderful-sounding name. As far as I'm concerned, it's a front organization for Grover Norquist' lobbying activities."

There’s a distinct lack of solutions coming from GOP leadership. They continue to advocate the same economic policies that failed the last three Republican presidents. Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.” What we need are some new ideas and solutions, and a collective return to sanity. Instead, we have John Stephen embracing Grover Norquist, who said when he was in NH, “We consistently don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.” This is the same mantra used by the NH GOP for generations - the mantra that left us with dams about to burst, and bridges about to collapse. The NH GOP loves to invoke the image of families sitting around kitchen tables going over their budgets. They fail to point out, however, that when there isn’t enough money to meet basic needs, someone’s going to have to take a second job to bring in more money.

Stephen also invokes the name of Meldrim Thomson at every opportunity, which seems a curious choice. Thomson was a “colorful” conservative governor, who wanted to arm the NH State Police with tactical nuclear weapons after the first big anti-nuclear protest at Seabrook. Given that all protestors had to go through non-violence training in order to participate, this seemed somewhat extreme. Thomson dressed in military fatigues and flew by helicopter to the site of the Seabrook nuke in order to personally order the arrests of 1400 demonstrators in 1977. Thomson flew NH flags at half mast whenever he felt the urge. NH officially mourned the signing of the Panama Canal Treaty and the official US recognition of Communist China. Thomson used NH State troopers as his personal drivers, and often ordered them to pull over and arrest drivers who were speeding on 93. Looking back at Mel Thomson, it’s clear that he transcended the category of mere eccentric, and was actually pretty crazy. Thomson is an interesting choice for a politician seeking to create his own political image to ally himself with.

Thomson won election in the 1970’s on the same platform Stephen is trying to win on “no new taxes.” That’s a real problem for Republicans. Recycling the same old tired slogans for decades is not new, innovative, or interesting. Jeb Bradley is running is first attack ad against incumbent Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. In the ad he says that in 2006, NH voters wanted change, but this (Shea-Porter) “isn’t what WE had in mind.” I don’t remember Bradley being interested in change in 2006. In fact, he was very pleased with the Bush status quo. The only change he was in favor of was privatizing Social Security, which put him squarely at odds with most of his constituents. The same old GOP tired mantras about guns, abortion, gays, and taxes are meaningless at a time when NH families are facing frightening financial insecurity. We need solutions, not recycled versions of the failed policies that have brought us to this point.

“We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals - and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship.”
Grover Norquist

(Picture from

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Out of State Interests

Late last month, NH’s junior Senator, John E. Sununu, Jr. published an editorial in the Union Leader, NH’s own Republican newspaper. Sununu waxed poetically about NH’s admirable record for protecting our water, air, and land. Luckily he didn’t pat his own back too, far, since his own environmental record is less than stellar. His reason for writing, however, is that he’s miffed at the Sierra Club, of whom he says, “I don’t endorse its Washington-based approach of lawsuits and partisanship.” Apparently the Sierra Club is trying to stop some timber harvesting in the White Mountains. One wouldn’t know that from reading Sununu’s editorial, however. He states that the Sierra Club is trying to stop timber harvesting, a calculated move to ensure that the average UL reader reads ALL timber harvesting, without him actually saying so.

Senator Sununu is running for re-election in 2008. He is running against former Governor Jeanne Shaheen. We last saw this same election matchup in 2002, the year of the infamous GOP phone jamming incident. Governor Shaheen was endorsed recently by the Sierra Club, which has the GOP in a tizzy. I don’t remember the Sierra Club’s endorsement of Charlie Bass in 2006 as generating any GOP commentary. Our very own local state Representative Gene Chandler had a letter to the editor in the Conway Sun this week, and that same letter was sent out to (the erroneously named) Foster’s Daily Democrat. Chandler went on at great length about out-of-state interests making decisions for NH, the subtext, of course, being that Shaheen is the tool of the aforementioned out-of-state interests. The implication is of course that conversely Senator Sununu is not a tool of out-of-state interests.

That, of course, would be incorrect. Take a trip to and find out where Sununu’s campaign funds are coming from. HINT: not NH. Over 75% of Sununu’s contributions come from out of state. They come from places like Washington (that place of lawsuits and partisanship), New York, Houston, Maryland, and Virginia. His top contributor is the Club for Growth PAC. The Club for Growth is so firmly entrenched in reality that there’s a commentary on their website saying George Bush may turn out to be a top economic forecaster. Other contributors include FMR Corp, an investment and wealth management company, Citigroup, Goldman-Sachs, AT&T, and Verizon. The top four industries who have contributed to Sununu’s campaign thus far are: Securities and Investment, Insurance, Leadership PACs and Lobbyists.

Senator Sununu has said that he wants to see more research on climate change before he joins the rest of the world in recognizing that there is such a thing. Thousands of scientists around the world have issued reports saying they believe humans are contributing to climate change. Sununu isn’t buying that. He says we need to put more money into research to understand how different greenhouse gasses affect long-term global temperature. Gary Hirshberg of Stonyfield Farms was quoted in 2007 as saying, “At this point there are only about three people on the planet who are denying that humans are heating our planet. Two of them are in the White House, and the other one is Senator Sununu.”

Senator Judd Gregg has acknowledged he seriousness of climate change, pointing out that overwhelming scientific evidence cannot be ignored. Sununu has said that he supports making all cars and light trucks meet fuel-efficiency standards - yet he’s consistently voted against increasing CAFE standards both as a Senator and a Congressman. In 2003 he voted against the Climate Stewardship Act, which would have created a cap-and-trade program. Gregg voted for it.

This regressive viewpoint puts him squarely at odds with most of his NH constituents. In 2003, 2004, and 2005 he voted against bipartisan proposals to reduce greenhouse emissions. In 2006 he opposed cutting carbon emissions, saying the environmental impact would be minimal but the costs to business would be substantial. After Hurricane Katrina, he voted against a bill that would have made gas-price gouging a federal crime.

Senator Sununu voted with George Bush 90% of the time. In early December 2007, he voted against a modest increase in LIHEAP funds, which would have eased the burden of heating costs for some NH families over the course of this long NH winter. He chose to side with out-of-state interests, rather than represent the in-state interests he’s supposed to be concerning himself with.

At the Carroll County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner, a thank you letter (and bumper sticker) signed by Henry Mock, was handed out, thanking Sununu for voting against “higher energy taxes.” The vote mentioned was not about higher energy taxes, it was about removing $13 billion in taxpayer subsidies to the oil and gas companies. The money would have been used to create renewable energy incentives and 3 million green jobs. It was a part of the tax package on the Energy Security and Independence Act. Sununu cast the deciding vote against it. He’s received over $210,000 from the oil and gas lobby, including a contribution from Chevron the day of the vote.

Governor Shaheen is currently ahead of Senator Sununu in the polls. Senator Sununu is in danger of losing his job. He’s supported an extremely unpopular president (22% approval ratings) 90% of the time. He’s been a strong supporter of the war in Iraq. He’s told businessmen in Concord to stop complaining about the high costs of health care, because nothing can be done about it. At every opportunity, John Sununu shows us just how out of touch he is with the voters of NH. He’s doing real well, though, with those out of state interests.

"The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously."  Hubert Humphrey, on lobbyists

The ad pictured at the top was done by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

Thursday, May 01, 2008

more on FLDS breeding and indoctrination camp

Half of Sect's Teen Girls Have Been or Are Pregnant

SAN ANGELO, Texas (AP) -- More than half the teenage girls taken from a polygamist compound in west Texas have children or are pregnant, state officials said Monday.
A total of 53 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 are in state custody after a raid 3 1/2 weeks ago at the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado. Of those girls, 31 either have children or are pregnant, said Child Protective Services spokesman Darrell Azar. He didn't specify how many are pregnant.

"It shows you a pretty distinct pattern, that it was pretty pervasive," he said

and later in the same article:

Of those 463 children, 250 are girls and 213 are boys. Children 13 and younger are about evenly split -- 197 girls and 196 boys -- but there are only 17 boys aged 14 to 17 compared with the 53 girls in that age range.

So - teen girls are being raped and impregnated by old men who tell them if they don't submit, they'll burn in hell. And, in order to ensure the old bulls don't have any competition, they're systematically thinning the boy herd after puberty. These boys are kicked out - taken to cities and dumped there - told they don't have families any more. They have no money, no education, and no life skills. They've never been out in the secular world. Over 400 Boys Excommunicated

Still, I keep reading that we must respect their religious freedom. I just don't seem able believe that rape is a mandate from God.

"It's like having the Taliban right up the road from Vegas, and no one pays any notice." ~ Jon Krakauer author of Under the Banner of Heaven

A short film by Thomas Elliot of Fresh Produce Media: Damned to Heaven