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Democratic Committee Meeting

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Andy Schmookler, 6th District Congressional Candidate COMING TO AREA

Amherst County Democratic Committee
Welcomes Andy Schmookler to our neighborhood!

Andy Schmookler

On March 3, Andy Schmookler, Democratic candidate for the 6th Congressional District, which encompasses Amherst County, will be holding a Town Meeting in the Lynchburg Public Library Saturday,  March 3,  from 3 to 5:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium (2315 Memorial Avenue).

Dr. Schmookler is an accomplished author, social thinker, commentator, consultant, speaker and professor.      Come
and here what this engaging personality has to say!

Ned Kable,  Secretary
Amherst County Democratic Committee

• Government for the People, Not Just the Powerful Few
 • Restoring Integrity to American Democracy
 • Opportunity for All to Fulfill their God-given Potential
 • “One Person, One Vote,” not “One Dollar, One Vote”
 • Passing on to Our Children a Nation and Planet as Healthy as Was Given to Us
 • Leadership that Brings Out the Best in the American People
 • Seeking and Speaking the Truth
 • Individual Liberty Combined with Wise and Constructive Government

Family Background -
Andy Schmookler was born in the spring of 1946 to parents who had grown up in poverty.

During the depression, Andy’s mother, Pauline, had to drop out of school at the age of 15 to support her ill mother and her two younger sisters.    Decades later, though she never graduated from high school, she got her college and two masters degrees and became a high school teacher of literature.

His father, Jacob was able to go to college thanks to his own mother’s working 14-hour days at a sewing machine to make it possible. After World War II, Andy’s father earned his doctorate in economics and began an academic career.

By the time Andy was 10, his family had a secure footing in the American middle class.

His parents raised him and his brother, Ed.    They taught their sons to have passion for justice, a deep commitment to honesty and integrity, and they instilled the value of hard work.    For Andy’s father, the honest pursuit of the truth was a paramount value.    He taught the discipline of reasoned inquiry.     And for his mother, a key value was that human worth does not lie in rank or wealth, but in beauty of soul, and that gems can be found in every group and at every stratum.

A Record of Accomplishment -
Equipped with these values, and with a love of learning:

 •Andy graduated Valedictorian in his high school class in the Twin Cities in Minnesota.

 •He graduated with highest honors in the field of Social Relations from Harvard University.

 •For his graduate studies he attended the University of Chicago in Social Thought and at Yale in American Studies.

 •Andy earned his doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley and the Graduate Theological Union in a program specially created to accommodate his original theory to explain the way that human civilization has developed.

His doctoral work was published The Parable of the Tribes (University of California Press, 1984;   second edition from SUNY Press, 1995), which was awarded the Erik H. Erikson prize by the International Society for Political Psychology.

This book led the way to a successful career as the author of many published books, most of them seeking to understand the forces that must be dealt with by our country, and by humankind generally, in order to create a good future for ourselves and for the generations to come.     The books are entitled:

•Out of Weakness:  Healing the Wounds that Drive Us to War (Bantam Books, 1988),

 •Sowings and Reapings:  The Cycling of Good and Evil in the Human System (Knowledge Systems, 1989).

 •The Illusion of Choice:  How the Market Economy Shapes        Our Destiny   (SUNY Press, 1993, with translation
published subsequently in Japan and Korea)

•Fool’s Gold:  The Fate of Values in a World of Goods (Harper Collins, 1993).

 •Debating the Good Society:  A Quest to Bridge America’s Moral Divide (M.I.T. Press, 1999).

Dr. Schmookler is an accomplished author, social thinker, commentator, consultant, speaker and professor.    His career accomplishments include:

 •Serving as an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.    He helped with the
analysis of possible future challenges for American policy-makers.

 •Spearheading a project with the Public Agenda Foundation, in which he interviewed the best minds in the
country, in various related fields, on how the United States might best achieve security in an age of weapons of mass destruction.

 •Being hired, in the 1990s, by the United States Army to help    with a project on the prevention of biological terrorism.

•Teaching at both the college level (Prescott College, Georgetown University) and at the high school level (Albuquerque Academy).

•Speaking at forums across the country such as the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, the Washington Ethical Society, and as Presidential lecturer at the University of Montana.

•Publishing his commentaries in newspapers across the country for the past thirty-five years, and broadcasting them on radio stations nationwide.

•Serving as a consultant to one of America’s premier corporations.

A Sense of Calling -
But most of all, Andy Schmookler has followed a sense of calling. His first book was inspired by a visionary
experience that proved life-changing. It led him to choose a life dedicated to service.    For the great majority of the past forty years, Andy has done the work he senses he is supposed to do.    Making money and getting ahead
have not dictated his life’s course.

For almost twenty years, Andy appeared regularly on WSVA radio out of Harrisonburg, Virginia in an entirely
uncompensated role.    He spoke with the people of the Shenandoah Valley about the issues of the day.    He discussed questions of meaning and value that we all face in our day to day lives.    Andy did this because he believes in the importance of meaningful dialogue in the search for truth and mutual understanding.

Beginning in 2004, Andy perceived something troubling about the dynamics operating within American
politics.    Believing that the nation was being damaged by a failure to confront the truth about the forces at work before our eyes, Andy devoted himself full-time –again without pay—to investigating and discussing the
moral crisis emerging in American society.

It is this same sense of calling, this same dedication to service, and this same sense of America being
imperiled, that has led to Andy’s running for Congress in Virginia’s 6th District. He wants to rally his fellow citizens to uphold the ideals of our American democracy.

Andy and April, wedding photo

Devotion to Family -
Andy is a devoted husband and father.

He’s married to April Moore, a writer and lover of the earth, and between them they have three children: 

Nathaniel, who just graduated from Harvard and wants to be a writer of fiction;   Terra who lives in California and is a licensed
clinical psychologist happily engaged to be married;   and Aaron, married and a teacher and creator of theater.

Andy is proud of his three children, all continuing the family tradition of working hard in service to the
values they hold dear.

After twenty-five years of marriage to April, he is more in love with her than ever.

April and Andy, today

It is urgent that we put people back to work in America.

This high unemployment hurts the people who want jobs but can’t find them.    It hurts their families, trying to make ends meet, trying to hold onto their homes.    It hurts our communities.    It is holding our economy back from the strong recovery we need.    It is a major cause of our federal deficit.

Wise government policy CAN get us out of this ditch.

American corporations have hired lots of people since the recession bottomed out.     Unfortunately, they’ve done their hiring overseas.    With the right policies, the government can change the incentives for these corporations so that American companies provide jobs to American workers.

Our infrastructure is in bad shape.    A few years ago, our engineers gave it a grade of D.    Now is the perfect time for governments to spend the money to give us an infrastructure suitable for a great country in the 21st century.    The private sector is sitting on its capital and won’t be squeezed out of the credit markets by this investment in our infrastructure.    And this investment will put people back to work and help revive the larger economy.

America will pay a high cost, over the long term, for allowing this high unemployment to damage the life-prospects of our youth, who should now be finding their place in the American workplace. 

 Three generations ago, during the Great Depression, the government stepped in with jobs programs that helped the youth of that era develop good work habits and feel part of the larger American enterprise while also contributing to the nation.

We can do that again, until the private sector is ready to hire them.
These are but some of the available solutions.    But with our current politics, good ideas cannot get enacted.

The Republicans took over Congress in 2010 promising job creation.    But since they’ve been in power, they’ve blocked every measure that would put people to work.    Their ideology insists on the nonsensical notion that government cannot create jobs (though that’s who issues THEIR paychecks).

The American people have told pollsters that getting people back to work is their top priority, not the cuts that actually kill off more jobs.

America needs Democrats in Congress who will fight harder so that all Americans have the opportunity to fulfill their God-given potential and contribute their best to a prosperous American community.

I am running for Congress in Virginia’s 6th District to be one of those Democrats.

It’s time that the needs of the American people came first in the halls of Congress, not the wants of those who have the most.
 -By Andy Schmookler

Our American health care system clearly has problems.   Americans pay almost twice as much for health care as
any other similar country, but the U.S. ranks only 37th in health care outcomes.  Every year, 45,000 people die from lack of health insurance.  Reform is clearly necessary.

But for decades, Republicans have disregarded these problems and obstructed every attempt to solve them.     And
now, the GOP has voted to destroy Medicare, even though that system is more efficient than private insurance companies.    They claim it’s too expensive, but that’s only because costs in the entire health care system are out of control.     The Republican plan would increase costs, and shift them from government onto older Americans.

Rather than destroy Medicare, we would do better to extend to every American the opportunity to join in
Medicare Plus—using the Medicare structure but, unlike seniors, paying their own way without government subsidy.     If private insurers really are superior, then they have nothing to be afraid of.      But if not, then we could gradually turn the public option into a single-payer system providing universal coverage to every American at lower costs.

The results are in: our health care system delivers less bang for more bucks.     It’s time for a new approach
that provides quality service, saves money and saves lives.

Despite what we hear, now is not the time to be focused on the deficit.     Now is the time to be focusing on
putting people back to work, and reviving America’s economy.    Spending should be cut and revenues raised once the economy is strong again.

Here’s why the Republicans’ focus is dangerously counter productive:    it not only distracts us from the urgent

task at hand, which is to get Americans back to work, but it also threatens to make that problem worse by damaging our still-fragile recovery.

When the economy is healthy again, that will be the time to address the remaining deficit.     Restoring
prosperity is the crucial first stop toward closing the deficit.    Part of the rest of the task of closing the
deficit involves increasing federal revenues.    The Republican refusal to consider the revenue side of the equation has no justification, in view of the facts about how the American distribution of wealth and taxation has become unbalanced and unjust in favor of the richest.

Measures that should be taken include:   1) closing inappropriate tax loopholes for corporations;   2) raising t
axes on the richest Americans back to the level in the prosperous 1990s;  and   3) creating various tiers for the richest Americans, so that billionaires are taxed at a higher marginal rate than a couple making $275,000.

To the extent that spending cuts are needed in the coming years, we should focus on areas different from those
the Republicans have been targeting.     Instead of gutting Social Security, Medicare, and other vital government programs, we can best reduce the deficit by bringing health care costs under control and by cutting our
excessive defense budget.     Fiscal discipline need not dismantle the programs and institutions that make America a great and humane society, or be achieved at the expense of our country’s most vulnerable citizens.

97% of leading climate scientists agree that climate change is a serious, man-made problem that needs to be
addressed.     And yet, America is not taking action to deal with this challenge because one of our two major parties has embraced the skepticism of a tiny minority of scientists.     It is not coincidence that the only place where American policy is ignoring an overwhelming scientific consensus is one where our richest corporations have a vested interest in our ignoring the science.     And we cannot afford to gamble with the only planet we have, and with the future well-being of our children and grandchildren, because dishonesty has corrupted our discourse.     As a candidate for Congress, one of my priorities is to bring honesty and responsibility to the politics of climate change.

There are problems that require urgent attention, but Social Security is not one of them.

The financing of Social Security needs only minor adjustments in the coming years.    Nonetheless, the same
forces that opposed the creation of Social Security are now trying to use our country’s economic woes as an excuse to dismantle one of America’s most popular and successful programs.

Social Security is a central part of what makes ours a humane and caring nation, one providing a degree of
dignity and security to many millions of Americans in their older years.    One of my priorities as a member of Congress will be to defend Social Security from those who cannot be trusted to deal with it honestly.

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Andy Schmookler For Congress
PO Box 432, Mount Jackson, VA 22482

Andy Schmookler for Congress

Amherst County Virginia Democratic News

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Running For President For Profit

4 People Who Will Not Be President and 3 Know it
Rick, Newt, Mitt and Ron

Why Running For President Is a Great Career Move

The exhausting schedule.    The prying press.    The tedious scrutiny of every word you utter.     A lot of sane people wonder who in their right mind would run for president. But there can be one major upside, besides the thrill of hearing yourself talk:     A big career boost, even if you don't win.      Best of all, many presidential candidates are able to cash in on fame that's largely financed by billionaires and other campaign donors.

It's no secret that becoming famous can help boost book sales and speaking fees, while creating new types of business opportunities. Sarah Palin has a particular talent for capitalizing on political celebrity.     Even though she lost in 2008�and merely ran for vice president she quickly became a multimillionaire thanks to two bestselling books, a TV show, and speaking fees that reportedly eclipsed $100,000 per appearance.

Many of the recent presidential candidates including some who have dropped out have already profited from the free network air time, press coverage and other publicity that comes with running. Nearly all of the Republican candidates have written books, for instance, and most of those have logged sales over the last year or so that were sharply higher than they would have been without the high-profile platform a presidential campaign provides.

Ron Paul, author of End the Fed and several other titles, sold 72,000 books in 2011, according to Neilsen Bookscan, up from 33,000 in 2010. (Bookscan captures about 75 percent of all book sales, so total sales are somewhat higher.)  
Herman Cain's 2011 memoir This Is Herman Cain! sold 33,000 copies last year 10 times the sales of his 2001 book, CEO of Self. And Cain plans to publish a new book in April called 9-9-9 The Revolution, meant to reinvigorate the tax plan that became his signature campaign line.

Newt Gingrich sold about 86,000 books in 2011, according to Bookscan, which was a dropoff from 2010 when Gingrich published two bestsellers.     But the former House Speaker still outsold every other presidential candidate except for Barack Obama, whose three titles sold 132,000 copies.

The only prominent author-candidate who didn't seem to benefit in 2011 was Mitt Romney, whose book  No Apology logged sales of just 12,000, down from 96,000 in 2010, the year it was published. Those weak sales may reflect the wan enthusiasm voters in general have shown toward the on-and-off Republican front-runner.

Beyond books sales, running for president is a singular opportunity for once-obscure people to rapidly rise to prominence, as Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann have done.   They can then profit from their celebrity through speaking gigs, media contracts and other such offers. Bachmann is proscribed from giving paid speeches and

earning other types of side income while still a sitting member of Congress, but Cain is developing a portfolio of enterprises meant to capitalize on his popularity, including a nonprofit foundation and a "SuperPAC"    that will raise funds to support candidates Cain
supports.      The former pizza-chain CEO hasn't given any paid speeches since withdrawing from the presidential race in December, according to spokesman Mark Block, but before that he reportedly pulled down $25,000 per speech�which he could do again.

Candidates who are better-known when they begin a presidential bid have the opportunity to refresh or enhance their reputations. John McCain fit that role in 2008, and Newt Gingrich best exemplifies it in 2012.    "Before the race, Newt was famous, but mainly for what he did in the 1990s," says Robert Shapiro, a senior fellow at Georgetown's McDonough School of Business who's been an economic advisor to many Democratic candidates.     "Now
he's famous for what he's doing now, which gives him much more commercial value."     Gingrich, who reported $3.1 million in income in 2010, runs a Washington consulting firm, among other things, which ought to benefit from the visibility he's earned while campaigning�assuming he returns to private life.

While running for president can create a quick burst of celebrity, it doesn't guarantee that riches will rain
down indefinitely.    "Beyond the initial six to 12 months after the campaign, it won't necessarily matter if you've run for president,"   says Dan Sims, a principal with Worldwide Speakers Group in Alexandria, Va.    "What will matter is whether you've stayed relevant and passionate on issues people care about."

Sarah Palin may be discovering the fleeting nature of celebrity. There was initially a bidding war for her TV
show, Sarah Palin's Alaska, but after one season the winning network, TLC, decided not to renew it.    And Palin has been unable to find a buyer for a new reality show she proposed, on the snowmobiling exploits of her
husband Todd.

Gingrich, by contrast, seems to be particularly good at reinventing himself. Plus, the insider status that's been something of a liability for him as a candidate would be an asset if he were to hit the paid speaking circuit following the election.     "Gingrich has certain insights and knowledge, and certain groups would love to hire him," says Stacy Tetschner, CEO of the National Speakers Association, which helps train and promote paid speakers. "Insider knowledge is the appeal of any politician."

Hermain Cain, says Tetschner, still has reasonably strong appeal as a speaker, despite the sexual-harassment allegations that drove him from the campaign.     And Rick Santorum's presidential run has clearly enhanced his marketability to family-focused groups, especially since Santorum has taken time out from the race occasionally to be with his own family.     "In terms of a speaking career, I'd say he's in a can't-lose position,"   says Tetschner.

Since most presidential campaigns end in defeat,  however,  a candidate's future prospects depend to some extent on how he or she loses.     "For people who suffer humiliating defeats, their value goes down,"  says Shapiro.     That group may include Rick Perry, whose popularity fell consistently after he entered the presidential race last August, thanks in part to several prominent gaffes.   

John Kerry and  Michael Dukakis  were arguably diminished by presidential campaigns that made them seem like floundering also-rans.

The best way to lose, says Shapiro, is to recognize when you've been beaten, bow out with dignity and graciously toss your support to the next best candidate.    Jon Huntsman essentially did that when he quit the race in January and endorsed Mitt Romney then, less than a month later, accepted an appointment to the board of Ford Motor Co.

Should Mitt Romney lose, either in the primaries or the general election, it's not hard to imagine a similarly polite retreat into private life (though Romney, with a personal fortune of $500 million or so, certainly doesn't need the money from speaking fees or directorships).

The more combative Gingrich, if he loses, may not go as quietly. But Gingrich, who has already built a lucrative post-political career despite a prickly reputation, could end up even better off.    "He will have formed a whole new set of business relationships in the course of campaigning that he can probably call on,"   says Shapiro.   "I'm sure he'll do fine in business."    It's a good bet that Gingrich himself is aware of that, too.

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Fact checking the CNN debate in Arizona

Once again we heard a blizzard of dubious statements, including many oldies but goodies.  Here is an examination of ten claims, in the order in which they were said.

“Obviously the first thing we need to do is repeal “Obamacare.” That’s one entitlement that we can get rid of.    And that’s a couple trillion dollars in spending over the next 10 years.”  — Rick Santorum

Santorum is only counting one side of the ledger — and overcounting it at that.    Because the health care law raises some taxes and cuts Medicare spending, the Congressional Budget Office calculated that it slightly reduced the deficit in the first 10 years, though much of the law was not fully implemented in the first four years.    All bets are off in the next 10 years, however.

“During his [Santorum’s] term in the Senate, spending grew by some 80 percent of the federal government.” Mitt Romney

“The 12 years I was in the United States Senate, we went from — the debt-to-GDP ratio, which is now over a hundred percent — when I came to the Senate, it was 68 percent of GDP.    When I left the Senate, it was 64 percent of GDP. So government as a size of the economy went down when I was in the United States Senate.”
Rick Santorum

Aren’t statistics fun? Romney pretends that Santorum — one of 100 senators in a bicameral legislature — was responsible for boosting all federal spending while in office.

But Santorum has spending going down as a percentage of the economy in the same period..

Santorum, by placing his statistics in context, has the better argument here.   Romney, using raw figures, ignores the impact of inflation and population growth on federal spending.

So, yes, federal spending went up from $1.516 trillion in 1995, when Santorum entered the Senate, to $2.729 trillion in 2007, when he left office.    That is a gain of 80 percent over 12 years, but when adjusted for inflation it turns into just an increase of 35 percent, according to the White House historical tables.

“Governor Romney raised $700 million in taxes and fees in Massachusetts.” —Rick Santorum

Santorum may be too conservative here with his figures. We’ve noted before that Romney as Massachusetts governor added hundreds of millions of dollars in fees and closed what he called tax loopholes worth $1.5 billion.

“When I was speaker, as I’m sure he remembers, we balanced the budget for four consecutive years, for the only time in his lifetime.”
Newt Gingrich

It’s simply not true, no matter how often Gingrich says it.      There are three key problems with his claim.

First, he was only speaker for two of those years.    He left in January 1999; the budget ran a surplus in the fiscal years of 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001.

Second, Gingrich opposed two tax-raising budget deals in 1990 and 1993 that were mostly responsible for bringing the budget into balance.     The budget was also balanced because, during the Gingrich years, the Democratic White House and Republican Congress were in absolute legislative stalemate, so neither side could implement grand plans to increase spending or cut taxes. (Look what happened with tax cuts — and the surplus —
when a Republican president followed Clinton.)

Third, the gross debt kept rising because the surplus included money earmarked for Social Security.    Thus, even during the surplus years, the gross debt (including bonds issued to Social Security and Medicare) rose by $400 billion.    Gross debt is the figure that conservatives tend to use.    During Gingrich’s time as speaker, the public debt was essentially flat, and the gross debt rose $700 billion.

I wrote an op-ed in the paper and I said, absolutely not, don’t write a check for $50 billion. These [auto] companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy just like airlines have, just like other industries have.    Go through a managed bankruptcy.”
Mitt Romney

With the Michigan primary coming up, Romney is still paying a political price for the headline on that opinion article:   “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”     His argument was actually a little more nuanced, but as we have written, he has never explained how the auto companies could have survived a bankruptcy when the credit markets were frozen and there was literally no financing. 

Interestingly, Romney ignored the observation made by moderator John King that Bush administration officials at the time believed “nobody would give the auto companies money — and that their choice, they say, at the time was to either give [them] government money or have them liquidate.” 

Romney thus is being disingenuous when he claims that the Obama administration approved a bankruptcy plan when  “they finally realized I was right.”    (He spins that position to the breaking point.) 

Romney is also wrong to claim that  “the president gave the companies to the United Auto Workers.”   Obama certainly allowed the UAW to end up with a better deal than they would have gotten in a traditional bankruptcy but the auto unions do not own the car companies.

“Not once in the 2008 campaign — not once did anybody in the elite media ask why Barack Obama voted in favor of legalizing infanticide.    OK?    So let’s be clear here.    If we’re going to have a debate about who the extremist is on these issues, it is President Obama, who as a state senator voted to protect doctors who killed babies who survived the abortion.    It is not the Republicans.”
Newt Gingrich

GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin publicly raised it during the 2008 campaign.  It was untrue then and it is untrue now that Gingrich is pushing it.

“The public health department was prepared to give a waiver to Catholic hospitals about a morning-after abortion pill, and that the governor’s office issued explicit instructions saying that they believed it was impossible under Massachusetts law to give them that waiver.”   Newt Gingrich

This is a gentler version of a claim that both Santorum and Gingrich have made on the campaign trail.    We examined this bit of Massachusetts political history.    Gingrich’s description here is fairly accurate, in contrast to the campaign rhetoric.     Romney certainly shifted  with the political winds at the time.

“Our bill [Romneycare] was 70 pages; his bill [Obamacare] is 2,700 pages.”    Mitt Romney

This is a specious claim, devoid of any truth.     Mitt is double-
counting pages and adding things that had little to do with health care.     The correct comparison is about 145 pages (Romneycare) to 200 pages (Obamacare).      Mitt will say anything to become president.     During the debate, Gingrich also referenced the health care law’s supposed page count, which really is a meaningless measurement of a law.

“This is a dictator [Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] who said he wants to eliminate Israel from the face of the Earth”   — Newt Gingrich
This claim is often asserted but  look closely at what Ahmadinejad actually said, there’s surprisingly little evidence, less than one would expect for such a frequent claim by republican politicians.



Through the first four contests in the GOP presidential race, there were more than 20 debates.     For the next 14 contests (at least), there will be only one debate.     That debate was held Wednesday night in Arizona, and its impact on the GOP presidential race will become clear in the days ahead.


* Ron Paul:   Who knew the Texas congressman was such an attack dog? While we’ve seen flashes of it in previous debates, he really went after Rick Santorum on Wednesday and got himself plenty of camera time in the process.    The takeaway if you were seeing Paul for the first time:     ‘I’m not a politician like these guys. I’m
principled.’    He used Santorum as a counter-balance in that effort, and it worked.

 * Mitt Romney:   It wasn’t his strongest performance, but he did what he had to do for the here-and-now — knock Santorum down a few pegs.    Romney’s performance isn’t likely to re-inspire confidence in his frontrunner status, which is probably more
his long-term concern.      But he bought himself time to work on that, at the very least, by stunting Santorum’s momentum.

 * Debates: This might have been the last debate of the 2012 GOP presidential race, but even if it was, it’s been a very good year for debates generally.      The Republican race has turned several times thanks to the results of these debates, and despite some questions
about the enthusiasm for the GOP canddiates, there was unprecedented enthusiasm for the debates, which drew record TV audiences.

There may be a call for fewer debates four years from now, but if anything, 2012 makes a strong case for more debates.


* Rick Santorum: For a guy who finally gained frontrunner status after a long haul, he didn’t handle it very well on the debate stage. As we noted Wednesday night, many of his counterpunches were difficult to follow and went way too far into the weeds.

“I didn’t follow all of that,”   Romney said after Santorum spent a while explaining the earmarking process.    Neither did the audience and most voters, which was Santorum’s problem.

 * Arlen Specter:   This guy didn’t exactly have a great end to his political career, and now his name is again being dragged through the mud in a GOP presidential primary.

It continues to surprise how much vitriol there is for Santorum’s eight-year-old endorsement of Specter in the 2004 Senate race. But it’s a real thing in conservative circles, and Romney was smart to broach it.

 * Congress:    Want to know more about the earmarking process? Just watch a replay of Wednesday night’s debate.    What’s that? You don’t want to know more about earmarks?    Of course you don’t.     Some of Santorum’s weakest moments came when he tried to justify his actions by pointing to how Congress works.

The problem is that people don’t think Congress works, period.    Paul took advantage of this; Santorum did not.

* Arizona:   Besides a question or two about immigration, was there any indication that this debate was in

Generally, these debates will include a good amount of local flavor. Poor Arizona broke the Republican Party rules by moving its primary into February and got its own debate — only to see the debate focus more on the other state holding its primary the same day as Arizona, Michigan.

Haley Barbour, who is about as close to a Republican Party sage as
they come, says it’s reasonable to think another candidate might yet get in the GOP presidential race.

“If the Republican primary voters continue to split up their votes in such a way that nobody is close to having a majority, then there is a chance that somebody else might get in,”    Barbour, the former governor of Mississippi and former RNC chairman, told ABC News.

Barbour said that such a scenario is unlikely, but that it’s increasingly possible.     He also said it’s possible that the GOP nominee won’t be known by the time of the GOP convention, but he said that might not be a bad thing.

“It is not accurate to say that a hotly contested convention is necessarily bad,”   Barbour said.    “I am not saying it is necessarily good, but I don’t think it is accurate to say it is necessarily bad. Let’s just see.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who has also broached the idea of an open convention, says Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) is the only GOP candidate who could enter the race late and compete. But he added that Daniels’s wife is against him running for president and would probably prevent it.



It’s not conservative, It’s reactionary

A number of social conservatives, sensing that Rick Santorum has hit a trip wire, are complaining that he’s being skewered for being a social conservative.     That’s demonstrably wrong.     The nonstop flaps (some of which concern past episodes that now have come to light) over the last couple of weeks have nothing to do with
Santorum’s pro-life views or even his opposition to gay marriage. They have to do with his desire to uproot decades-old trends (e.g. women in the workplace, women in combat, use of contraception) and to use religious terminology and judgments to cast aspersions on his opponents (e.g. “phony theology,” the devil has infiltrated
American institutions).     In short, Santorum on social issues is not a conservative but a reactionary, seeking to obliterate the national consensus on a range of issues beyond gay marriage and abortion.

A reactionary is one who seeks to return to a previous state of affairs. It is not a conservative outlook,
which in the Burkean sense looks to people as they are, prefers modest over the radical solutions and builds on the existing morals and habits of the society.    It is conservative to argue the president should respect and accommodate religious institutions;    It is reactionary to go on a quest against contraception and pre-natal testing, both of which the vast majority of Americans utilize or approve of.

Santorum is reactionary in his discomfort with women working outside the home (other than his own working
mother, presumably), who he claims were bamboozled by greed or “radical feminists” into seeking fulfillment and equality in the workplace.    He is reactionary in declaring that women in the military are fit only to “fly small planes,”  but not take on the duties they have been assuming under battlefield conditions for years.    He is reactionary in telling women (married ones, even!) that contraception is harmful to them.

Unlike a think tanker or pundit who wants to elucidate the adverse impact of social trends, he is running for president where, through policy and the bully pulpit, he intends to wage war on post-1960 America.

Ronald Reagan didn’t run with such a perspective.     Neither did George W. Bush.    No Republican nominee ever has.
Conservatives in public office have striven to restrain the size and growth of the state as a means of promoting liberty.     Santorum wants to instruct us that there’s no right to absolute liberty, and he’ll tell us what sort of liberty is harmful and what is not.      This misconceives at a fundamental level what it is we ask politicians to do and what voters want and expect from political leaders.

Santorum, however, tells us that this is precisely what will be at the core of his presidency:

One of the things I will talk about that no President has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea.    Many in the Christian faith have said, “Well, that’s okay. Contraception’s okay.”

It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are
supposed to be.    They’re supposed to be within marriage, they are supposed to be for purposes that are, yes, conjugal, but also [inaudible], but also procreative.    That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen.    We take any part of that out, we diminish the act.    And if you can take one part out that’s not for purposes of procreation, that’s not one of the reasons, then you diminish this very special bond between men and women, so why can’t you take other parts of that out?     And all of a sudden, it becomes deconstructed to the point where it’s simply pleasure. And that’s certainly a part of it — and it’s an important part of it, don’t get me wrong — but there’s a lot of things we do for pleasure, and this is special, and it needs to be seen as special.

Again, I know most Presidents don’t talk about those things, and maybe people don’t want us to talk about those
things, but I think it’s important that you are who you are.     I’m not running for preacher.     I’m not running for pastor, but these are important public policy issues.     These how profound impact on the health of our society.

Republicans may win an election fighting against the excesses and failures of the Obama administration while
promoting an alternative vision of conservative reform, one rooted in the free market and respect for individual freedom.    They will be clobbered running on the reactionary platform on which Santorum is seeking to use the power of the state and of his office to reorder society according to his theology.

The irony of Santorum’s “phony theology” point is that had he been directing his comments to the president’s absurd assertions in the recent prayer breakfast that his tax plan is rooted in scripture, he would have had a point.     But Santorum isn’t interested in getting theology out of statecraft;   Rather, he’s interested in substituting his own theology.     That is politically untenable for most Americans and, in its own way, would be as radical an undertaking as Obama’s efforts to remodel America along the lines of Western European nations.

Franklin Graham is a Silly Clown

Franklin Graham:   Obama May Secretly Be A Muslim, Santorum And Gingrich Are Definitely Christian

Rev. Franklin Graham — son of Billy Graham — would not say if President Obama is a Christian during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Tuesday, insisting that  “I cannot answer that question for anybody.”

Franklin claimed that the President began attending Church to bolster his political career and is a Muslim under Islamic law. “Islam sees him as a son of Islam because his father was a Muslim, his grandfather was a Muslim, great grandfather was a Mulsim and so under Islamic law, the Muslim world sees Barack Obama as a
Muslim,”   Graham said, before explaining that he could not rule out the possibility that Obama may secretly be Muslim.     “I can’t say categorically [that Obama is not a Muslim] because Islam has gotten a free pass under Obama,” he said.

The visibly shocked Morning Joe crew pressed Graham further and discovered that he was far more willing to accept the other presidential candidates’ personal testaments.    Graham agreed that Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich were both Christians, while raising some concerns about Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith:

Graham has been in and out of drug rehab since his teenage yers and it is rumored that most of visions happen when he is stoned.

Graham had previously questioned whether Obama was born in the United States.     Why a respected cable network would book this guest is unknown.     Most of Graham's crazy comments happen on talk radio and Fox News.

Amherst County Virginia Democratic News

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Dark Ages Return Coutersy of GOP

New Virginia Personhood Laws Outlaw Birth Control – and Oh, Yeah – Can Penetrate Women Without Their Consent

You read that right.    Under legislation already passed in the House in Virginia  (which the governor has promised to sign)  if you seek a legal abortion there, the new law literally requires a forced vaginal invasion — a   “transvaginal ultrasound“.     The other, the “personhood”  law, criminalizes the birth control pill, stem cell research, perhaps even the In Vitro Fertility (IVF) assistance for childless couples.    Welcome the Republican plan for America.

The ultrasound legislation would constitute an unprecedented government mandate to insert vaginal ultrasonic probes into women as part of a state-ordered effort to dissuade them from terminating pregnancies, legislative opponents noted.

 "We're talking about inside a woman's body,"    Del. Charnielle Herring, a Democrat, said in an emotional floor speech.    "This is the first time, if we pass this bill, that we will be dictating a medical procedure to a physician."

Big Nosey Republicans want to mind everybodies business.     They want to create the rules you live by and tell you how many children you should have.     They want to supervise you in your bedroom and this is what they call small government.

This is totally medically unnecessary invasive procedure.    It serves no purpose other than to humiliate and shame women and intimidate them from choosing a legal medical procedure.

The Virginia state House of Delegates voted 63 to 36 to pass a bill requiring that women seeking abortions undergo a transvaginal ultrasound, which requires a probe being inserted into the vagina.

Delegate Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) criticized the bill, saying  “We’re talking about inside a woman’s body.    This is the first time, if we pass this bill, that we will be dictating a medical procedure to a physician.”    The House also voted down by a vote of 64 to 34 an amendment, which requires the women’s consent for the transvaginal ultrasound probe.     This means a probe must be inserted into the woman’s vagina with or without her consent if she seeks an abortion.     
Regent College Trained at Pat Robinson's Hand

The bill will now go to the state Senate. Republican Governor Bob McDonnell indicated that he will sign the bill.

Right Wingers wishing to see Republican personhood in the process need look no further than Virginia, where the GOP-controlled House just passed HB1, (Marshall-R).     Being the most ignorant and backwards state seems to be the goal of republican voters in Virginia and they are well on the way to owning that title.

Part of a matched set of two astonishingly cruel legislations, (the other bill literally requires a forced vaginal invasion -- a "transvaginal ultrasound" -- into any woman considering a legal abortion) of which the personhood bill may actually be more destructive.

The transvaginal ultrasound is humiliating, painful, medically unnecessary, and imposed on a woman against her will, like rape with a foreign object --but the personhood law is forever.

Do Virginians really want to criminalize the birth control pill, stem cell research, perhaps even the In Vitro Fertility (IVF) assistance for childless couples -- as well as a woman's right to choose?

Amazingly, this anti-women's rights bill is being offered as -- a traffic safety improvement!

Listen to bill author Bob Marshall (R-Manassas):  "The legal effect here is (if) a pregnant woman is driving in an intersection and someone runs into her, she can sue for loss of a child,"    

Having first denied their bill would affect abortion or birth control, Republicans later revealed their true intent.     Asked if the bill was intended to  “lay groundwork for outlawing abortion,”  the bill’s author Marshall responded with the mocking comment:    “You’d have to be completely obtuse to not understand that is something I have worked toward for 20 years… ” Democrat Vivian Watts (D-Fairfax) challenged the bill, essentially saying, if the bill truly won’t affect birth control, put that in writing — add an amendment pledging nothing in the bill shall affect birth control.    But Republicans immediately voted 64-34 not to add this modest amendment.     Even Fox News, normally an apologist for all things Republican, did not buy the “no impact on abortion rights” nonsense, saying:”…Bob Marshall’s House Bill 1 would effectively outlaw all Virginia abortions by declaring that the rights of a person apply from the moment sperm and egg unite.”    If personhood laws are put into effect, government would literally have the authority to control the reproductive life of every citizen.     Were not Republicans supposed to be in favor of individual liberty?     Why then would they want to remove our right to use birth control?     With an estimated 99 percent of all women of reproductive years reportedly having engaged in contraception, it hardly seems possible that Republicans would try to ban something as common as air.     True, Rick Santorum expressed his sentiment that sex with birth control is  “not OK because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”     The other Republican Presidential hopefuls also support personhood, with the allegedly moderate Romney going so far as to say he would  “absolutely”  sign a personhood Constitutional Amendment.    What do American voters think?
Vice Presidential Want To Be

As if stamped out of an anti-woman mold, Republican hopefuls Romney, Gingrich, Santorum and Paul all support the cruel and bizarre policy of  “personhood,”  the belief that full legal rights instantly accompany the joining of every sperm and egg.    Voters wishing to see Republican personhood in the process need look no further than Virginia, where the GOP-controlled House just passed HB1, (Marshall-R).  Part of a matched set of two astonishingly cruel legislations,   (the other bill literally requires a forced vaginal invasion — a “transvaginal ultrasound” — into any woman considering a legal abortion)  of which the personhood bill may actually be more destructive.    The transvaginal ultrasound is humiliating, painful, medically unnecessary, and imposed on a woman against her will, like rape with a foreign object –but the personhood law is forever.     Do Virginians really want to criminalize the birth control pill, stem cell research, perhaps even the In Vitro Fertility (IVF) assistance for childless couples — as well as a woman’s right to choose?




Virginia's Past and Republican Future

In 1979, Eva F. Scott, of Amelia County, became the first woman to win election to the Senate of Virginia.    By early in the 1990s there were three women among the forty members of the Senate and twelve among the one hundred members of the House of Delegates.

 In 1961, Hazel K. Barger, of Roanoke, was a candidate but lost for
lieutenant governor, the first woman in Virginia nominated by a major party for statewide office.    In statewide elections before Adèle Clark's death in 1983 at the age of one hundred, she saw nine women elected to the House of Delegates and two to the Senate.

Edythe C. Harrison, of Norfolk, was the Democratic Party nominee for the United States Senate in 1984.     Neither Barger nor Harrison won, but in 1985 Delegate Mary Sue Terry, of Henry County, did win election as attorney general of Virginia.   The first and only woman elected to statewide office,  Terry won again in 1989, but failed in her bid for the governorship in 1993.

Women continued to break new ground in the political arena. In 1989 Elizabeth Bermingham Lacy became the first woman elected to the Supreme Court of Virginia.     Mary Margaret Whipple, of Arlington County, became the first woman to hold a party leadership position in the Senate when she became chair of the Democratic caucus in 2000.

The number of women legislators in most states was still relatively small in 2005, but in Virginia they included eight of forty state senators and fourteen of one hundred members in the House of Delegates.    In 1992, Leslie Byrne was elected to the United States Congress—the first woman elected to Congress from Virginia, seventy-two years after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment.

Which brings us to present day right wing republican activity in our state.   Please remember these politicians were elected by republican voters who stopped thinking circa 1950.   Did you ever think there were that many backward thinking right wing nut jobs in Virginia?

Unfortunately, the past two General Assembly sessions show us one of the governor’s biggest priorities – to undercut the health of Virginia women and their families.

Bob Protects The Women of Virginia

Since 2010, McDonnell has overridden doctors’ diagnoses and blocked low-income women’s access to abortion care when their health is at grave risk.

McDonnell has banned Virginia women from using their own money to purchase private insurance coverage for abortion care even in tragic health-threatening and fetal abnormality cases.

McDonnell has approved new, unwarranted regulations to single out first-trimester abortion providers from other doctors’ office and turn them  into hospitals, essentially shutting them down and banning access to safe, affordable reproductive healthcare to a majority of Virginia women.

And, McDonnell restored nearly $900,000 in funding for failed, abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in our public schools that deny real information to our youth so they can make healthy, responsible decisions.

Governor McDonnell’s policies and priorities are bad news for Virginia women and their families.

Another Republican Nut Job

The far christian right does not recognize women in leadership roles and views them in a secondary position to men.     These nutjobs with the help of republican voters have taken over Virginia and republican women get the credit for surrendering their rights.     If  someone offers up a bill to curtail your ability to speak in public and decides to gift you with a burka, I vote for that if it only affected republicans.     Why not?      You sheep haven't done any favors for anyone else.

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First Opportunity Vote TheseNosey Republican SCUM Out Of Office and out of your life and business.

Amherst County Virginia Democratic News

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Moment of Truth for Virginia Republicans

Old Amherst Town Photos

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Republicans now have complete control of Virginia.   They control the House,  the Senate and the Governor's Mansion.    The next time you hear them complaining about Democrats remind them that they run the whole show.   They can no longer complain and blame it on someone else.  They must take responsibility.    Will they lead the state into the future or return it to the 1940's and the last century?  

One of their first acts is an attempt to outlaw birth control.     The republican government wants to tell you when and how to get pregnant and how large to grow your family.     This is the get the government out of your life they always talk about?     I have trouble believing you knuckle dragging right wing sheep voted for these idiots to run your state.

We've covered the litany of so-called "personhood" measures—conferring legal rights on fertilzed eggs—that have popped up around the country since Mississippi voters defeated just that sort of effort last November.     Now Virginia could become the first state in the country to actually pass personhood legislation.

On Tuesday, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill introduced by Delegate Bob Marshall (R-Prince William)   by a 66-32 vote.     The bill, like other "personhood" measures, would amend the definition of the word "person" under state law to include zygotes, thereby granting them legal rights.

The summary reads:
Provides that unborn children at every stage of development enjoy all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of the Commonwealth, subject only to the laws and constitutions of Virginia and the United States, precedents of the United States Supreme Court, and provisions to the contrary in the statutes of the Commonwealth.

It will be interesting to see what happens from here.    The bill now must be cleared by the state senate to move forward.    But earlier this month, a panel in the state senate rejected a bill that would have limited abortions to the first 20 weeks after conception.    This latest bill would be far more restrictive, potentially prohibiting all abortions and likely some common types of oral contraception. Virginia's House of Delegates also recently passed a new law forcing women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion.

Passage of this latest bill in the House of Delegates makes Virginia "dangerously close to making Virginia the first state in the country to grant personhood rights to fertilized eggs," says Tarina Keene, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia.    She noted that the state code mentions the word "person" 25,000 times, which would give this redefinition a broad reach into many aspects of the law.     The measure now faces a vote.

The Republican-controlled House of Delegates voted 66-32 in favor of defining the word person under state law to include unborn children   "from the moment of conception until birth at every stage of biological development."

The measure now heads to the Senate, which is evenly split between Republicans and Democrats but with Republican Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling wielding the tie-breaking vote.

Republican Delegate Bob Marshall, an abortion opponent who introduced the legislation, said the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in the United States would not have been rendered if Texas state law had regarded the unborn as a person "in the full sense."    "So this is a first step, a necessary step, but it's not sufficient to directly challenge Roe,"    Marshall said
in a phone interview.

Virginia's approach differs from failed attempts to define a fertilized egg as a legal person in Colorado in 2008 and 2010 and in Mississippi in 2011.

Virginia's effort avoids involving a constitutional amendment like those states, instead seeking changes throughout the legal code, said Elizabeth Nash, public policy associate at the Washington-based Guttmacher Institute, which studies reproductive health issues.

But she said the intent is the same, with the measure ultimately aimed at banning abortion, contraception and infertility treatment.

"Should this bill become law, it could have a far-reaching impact on women's access to health care," Nash said.

"No state, as yet, has adopted anything like this.




Rick Santorum has a long, colorful history of making bizarre, inflammatory and just plain ridiculous statements about all sorts of important issues.     

Here is a rundown of some of Rick’s “greatest hits.

"The reason Social Security is in big trouble is we don't have enough workers to support the retirees. A third of all the young people in America are not in America today because of abortion, because one in three pregnancies end in abortion."
- Rick Santorum, 3/29/11

 “I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say ‘now we are going to decide who are people and who are not people’.”
 - Rick Santorum on President Obama’s race and pro-choice beliefs, 1/19/2011

“…everything I’ve read shows that we would not have gotten this information as to who this man was if it had not been gotten information from people who were subject to enhanced interrogation. And so this idea that we didn’t ask that question while Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was being waterboarded, he [John McCain] doesn’t understand how enhanced interrogation works. I mean, you break somebody, and after they’re broken, they become
cooperative. And that’s when we got this information. And one thing led to another, and led to another, and that’s how we ended up with bin Laden.”
 - Rick Santorum saying that John McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner of war, doesn’t understand “enhanced
interrogation”, 5/17/11

“A lesbian woman came up to me and said, ‘why are you denying me my right?’ I said, ‘well, because it’s not a right.’ It’s a privilege that society recognizes because society sees intrinsic value to that relationship over any other relationship.”
- Rick Santorum on gay adoption, 5/3/11

 “Many women have told me, and surveys have shown, that they find it easier, more “professionally” gratifying,
and certainly more socially affirming, to work outside the home than to give up their careers to take care of their children.  Think about that for a moment…Here, we can thank the influence of radical feminism, one of the core philosophies of the village elders.”
 –Blaming “radical feminism” for making women want to work outside the home.  It Takes a Family, Pg. 95, July

“But unlike abortion today, in most states even the slaveholder did not have the unlimited right to kill his slave.”
 –Comparing a woman’s right to choose to slavery.  It Takes a Family, Pg. 241, July 2005.

“In far too many families with young children, both parents are working, when, if they really took an honest look at the budget, they might confess that both of them really don’t need to, or at least may not need to work as much as they do… And for some parents, the purported need to provide things for their children simply
provides a convenient rationalization for pursuing a gratifying career outside the home.”
 –Questioning the needs and motives of families in which both parents work.  It Takes A Family, Pg. 94, July


“The reason Social Security is in big trouble is we don’t have enough workers to support the retirees. A third of all the young people in America are not in America today because of abortion, because one in three pregnancies end in abortion.”
 - Rick Santorum on how abortion is responsible for Social Security’s problems, 3/29/11

“I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say ‘now we are going to decide who are people and who are not people’.”
- Rick Santorum on President Obama’s race and pro-choice beliefs, 1/19/2011

“Is anyone saying same-sex couples can’t love each other? I love my children. I love my friends, my brother. Heck, I even love my mother-in-law. Should we call these relationships marriage, too?”
- Rick Santorum comparing his love for his mother-in-law to the love that same-sex couples share, 5/22/2008 

“I don’t think it works. I think it’s harmful to women, I think it’s harmful to our society to have a society that says that sex outside of marriage is something that should be encouraged or tolerated, particularly among the young. I think it has, as we’ve seen, very harmful long-term consequences for society. So birth control to
me enables that and I don’t think it’s a healthy thing for our country.”
 –Saying that birth control is harmful to women, society and our country.  CN8′s “Nitebeat with Barry Nolan”,
July 28, 2005.

“The notion that college education is a cost-effective way to help poor, low-skill, unmarried mothers with high school diplomas or GEDs move up the economic ladder is just wrong.”
 –Arguing that poor, unwed mothers don’t really need college educations.  It Takes a Family, Pg. 138, July 2005.

“Many women have told me, and surveys have shown, that they find it easier, more “professionally” gratifying, and certainly more socially affirming, to work outside the home than to give up their careers to take care of their children.  Think about that for a moment…Here, we can thank the influence of radical feminism, one of the core philosophies of the village elders.”
 –Blaming “radical feminism” for making women want to work outside the home.  It Takes a Family, Pg. 95, July

“But unlike abortion today, in most states even the slaveholder did not have the unlimited right to kill his slave.”
 –Comparing a woman’s right to choose to slavery.  It Takes a Family, Pg. 241, July 2005.

“In far too many families with young children, both parents are working, when, if they really took an honest look at the budget, they might confess that both of them really don’t need to, or at least may not need to work as much as they do… And for some parents, the purported need to provide things for their children simply
provides a convenient rationalization for pursuing a gratifying career outside the home.”
 –Questioning the needs and motives of families in which both parents work.  It Takes A Family, Pg. 94, July

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