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“I Had To Say I Believe In Science”: Jon Huntsman, GOP Is Like Communist Party In China

Jon Huntsman, a former Republican Party candidate for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, Sunday evening in an interview said that the GOP is like the Communist Party in China. Huntsman, who was President Obama’s Ambassador to China, certainly is in a position to know. A former Republican Governor of Utah who worked in both the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations, Jon Huntsman last night also distanced himself from Mitt Romney, and attacked the Republican Party’s anti-science and anti-tax positions.

Buzzfeed reports that “the Republican Party disinvited him from a Florida fundraiser in March after he publicly called for a third party.

“This is what they do in China on party matters if you talk off script,” he said.

Huntsman said he regrets his decision to oppose a 10-to-1 spending cuts to tax increase deal to cut the deficit at the Iowa debate lamenting: “if you can only do certain things over again in life.”

“What went through my head was if I veer at all from my pledge not to raise any taxes…then I’m going to have to do a lot of explaining,” he explained. “What was going through my mind was ‘don’t I just want to get through this?’”

That decision, Huntsman said, “has caused me a lot of heartburn.”

Huntsman jokingly blamed his failed candidacy in part on his wife, Mary Kaye, who told him she’d leave him if he abandoned his principles.

“She said if you pandered, if you sign any of those damn pledges, I’ll leave you,” Huntsman recounted.

“So I had to say I believe in science — and people on stage look at you quizzically as though you’re was an oddball,” Huntsman said, explaining why he was “toast” in Iowa.

Asked by journalist Jeff Greenfield if he could win the nomination of the Republican Party in Utah today, Huntsman said he could not, saying later that Ronald Reagan would “likely not” be able to win the GOP nomination nationally in this political climate.

On foreign policy, Huntsman questioned his former Republican opponents’ hard-line positions on China. “I don’t know what world these people are living in,” he said, not naming Mitt Romney by name.

Huntsman, a Mormon, was one of only two GOP presidential candidates who are open to supporting some LGBT civil rights. Fred Karger, a gay Republican candidate for the nomination, supports same-sex marriage. Huntsman only supports civil unions for same-sex couples. He was viewed as a sane Republican, which forced him out of the race early.


By: David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement, April 23, 2012

April 23, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Committed To Decline And Despair”: It’s Time For The GOP To Grow Up

The United States needs two responsible governing parties if it’s ever going to address its most pressing problems.

I’ve grown so used to dismissing Tom Friedman’s work for The New York Times that when he writes something genuinely good, it comes as a surprise. To wit, in his column for the Sunday paper, he aruges that our political system has devolved into a “vetocracy”—a system where “no one can aggregate enough power to make any important decisions at all.”

The culprits, according to Friedman, are polarization, broken institutional norms—in particular, filibuster abuse—the massive proliferation of special interests, and the growing importance of money in politics. The ultimate outcome of this, says Friedman, is governmental paralysis:

America’s collection of minority special-interest groups is now bigger, more mobilized and richer than ever, while all the mechanisms to enforce the will of the majority are weaker than ever. The effect of this is either legislative paralysis or suboptimal, Rube Goldberg-esque, patched-together-compromises, often made in response to crises with no due diligence. That is our vetocracy.

This dovetails with a problem that Friedman only alludes to:

[I]f you believe the fantasy that America’s economic success derives from having had a government that stayed out of the way, then gridlock and vetocracy are just fine with you. But if you have a proper understanding of American history — so you know that government played a vital role in generating growth by maintaining the rule of law, promulgating regulations that incentivize risk-taking and prevent recklessness, educating the work force, building infrastructure and funding scientific research — then a vetocracy becomes a very dangerous thing.

If there’s anything that defines the current political moment, it’s the fact that—of the two major parties—one has completely abandoned the American consensus that Friedman describes. In the mythology of the Republican Party, government has never played a part in the country’s growth or prosperity—the “free market” alone is responsible for the nation’s current prosperity. Not only does this run counter to the historical record—to say nothing of observable reality—but it has resulted in a world where one party refuses to accept a role for government in anything.

As Friedman (obliquely) points out, this is a recipe for disaster. The institutions of the United States aren’t built for one-party rule, and we can’t make progress on pressing issues—climate change, health care, aging infrastructure—without a mutual understanding between the two parties. Republicans don’t have to abandon their preference for small government or their skepticism for federal programs, but effective action requires the GOP to back away from its opposition to the public sector, and reconsider the role of government in solving the nation’s problems.

Between Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, the Republican Party is committed to a radical attack on the size and role of government. The Romney economic plan, which draws its ideas from Paul Ryan’s budget, would eliminate most non-defense discretionary spending, and funnel the savings to tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Vital government functions like environmental regulation, scientific research, and poverty reduction would be sacrificed on the altar of small government. This isn’t a sustainable state of affairs. A world where government completely withdraws from the lives of ordinary Americans is one where we all but commit to a path of decline and disrepair.

If there’s anything that this country needs right now, it’s a responsible and functional Republican Party. I won’t hold my breath.


BY: Jamelle Bouie, The American Prospect, April23, 2012

April 23, 2012 Posted by | Democracy | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Show Me Your Papers”: The Constitution Protects U.S. Citizens From Laws Like Arizona’s

Arizona’s frustration with our nation’s dysfunctional immigration system is understandable. But its restrictive “show me your papers” immigration law is unconstitutional and un-American.

The U.S. Constitution protects and safeguards our most fundamental rights—the rights that are the bedrock of our freedom and democracy. Each of us has the right to be treated equally and fairly, and to not be discriminated against on the basis of the color of our skin or the accent with which we may speak.

Arizona’s law violates these precious Constitutional protections. Already, in Arizona and other states with “show me your papers” laws, U.S. citizens who don’t happen to carry proof of their birth in the United States in their back pockets are being treated with suspicion and are facing arrest and detention until they can convince law enforcement authorities of their citizenship. This racial profiling and assault on personal freedom and security is both unconstitutional and un-American.

The U.S. Constitution was also written to safeguard and protect our fundamental character as a nation of united states. In areas where it is important for states to determine their own policies, the Constitution protects states’ rights. But in areas where it is important that our nation speak with one voice, the Constitution prohibits states from taking matters into their own hands.

Immigration is one of those areas involving our country’s relations with foreign countries and nationals where our nation needs to speak with one voice. Just as states cannot sign their own treaties with, or declare war on, other countries, so too states cannot enact their own immigration laws. If they could, the resulting patchwork of 50 different state laws would lead to confusion, conflict, and chaos.

Other nations would retaliate and treat U.S. citizens unfairly as they travel, work and study abroad. Citizens and immigrants alike would flee from one state to another, seeking freedom from discriminatory laws. Businesses would leave states where their workers and visiting foreign managers were subject to intrusive police demands for “papers.”

The United States could not survive as two nations—one slave, one free. Neither can the United States accommodate two sets of immigration laws—one that requires the Department of Homeland Security to enforce the laws that Congress enacts, and the other that requires all of us, citizens and immigrants alike, to “show me your papers.”


By: Jeanne Butterfield, Special Counsel, Raben Group, Published in U. S. News and World Report, April 23, 2012

April 23, 2012 Posted by | Arizona | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Democratize The “Mother’s Milk Of Politics”: How To Beat Citizens United

We are about to have the worst presidential campaign money can buy. The Supreme Court’s dreadful Citizens United decision and a somnolent Federal Election Commission will allow hundreds of millions of dollars from a small number of very wealthy people and interests to inundate our airwaves with often vicious advertisements for which no candidate will be accountable.

One would like to think that the court will eventually admit the folly of its 2010 ruling and reverse it. But we can’t wait that long. And out of this dreary landscape, hope is blossoming in the state of New York. There’s irony here, since New York is where a lot of the big national money is coming from. No matter. The state is considering a campaign finance law that would repair some of the Citizens United damage, and in a way the Supreme Court wouldn’t be able to touch.

The idea is that to offset the power of large donors, citizens without deep pockets should be encouraged to flood the system with small contributions that the government would match. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has pledged to a state overhaul of this sort, based on the one already in force for New York City elections. In his state of the state address in January, Cuomo spoke of how urgent it is to “reconnect the people to the political process and their government.” He could make himself into a reform hero across the country if he and the Legislature created a model law for other states, and the nation.

The New York City program is straightforward: The government gives participating candidates $6 in matching funds for every dollar raised from individuals who live in the city, up to the first $175. At a maximum, this means a $175 contribution is augmented by $1,050 in public funds. That’s a mighty incentive for politicians to involve more citizens in paying for campaigns. In the city system, participating candidates have to live within certain spending and contribution limits. In a new statewide system, there are likely to be no spending restrictions but lower limits on contributions.

The beautiful thing is that this approach should answer most of the criticisms offered by those who defend the Citizens United world. I say “should” because advocates of current arrangements will find a way to oppose any reforms. But the New York Revolution, if it happens, would undercut many of their arguments — including their constitutional claims.

The New York reform does not limit anyone’s capacity to participate. It creates incentives for more people to participate. It does not reduce the amount of political speech. It expands the number of people speaking through their contributions. It does not protect incumbents. On the contrary, it opens the way for candidates who might otherwise be driven from the competition by established politicians with access to traditional funding sources.

In short, it makes our democracy democratic again.

And it works. A study of the New York City program published recently by Michael Malbin, executive director of the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute, and his co-authors Peter W. Brusoe and Brendan Glavin concludes that the evidence “suggests that multiple-matching funds can stimulate participation by small donors in a manner that is healthy for democracy.”

In particular, they discovered that the reform substantially increased involvement by residents of poor and minority neighborhoods. Suddenly, politicians are hanging around with people other than those with yachts, private jets and complicated tax breaks. Malbin and his colleagues put it more soberly: A matching-funds approach means politicians “spending time with a more diverse set of constituents than he or she would if all of his or her fundraising engaged the upper middle class and rich.”

As for those who object to “taxpayer financing of elections,” consider that a candidate doesn’t get a dime unless he or she raises money from willing private donors. Besides, the Malbin paper notes, “political and civic participation are public goods” and elections “are, after all, the public’s business.” Conservatives fond of vouchers in so many other areas should see this as an opportunity to create Democracy Vouchers.

It will take courage for incumbent politicians to risk establishing a bold new system that could put some of them in danger. But in the course of our history, New York has been a proudly innovative place. A nation looking for a way out from under the money regime created by Citizens United badly needs the example of politicians who believe in democracy enough to democratize the mother’s milk of politics.


By: E. J. Dionne, Jr, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 22, 2012

April 23, 2012 Posted by | Campaign Financing | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“No Excuse For Inaction”: The Awful Race Disparities That Still Haunt Us

Even though a black family lives in the White House, hardly anyone seriously argues that we live in a postracial society. That aspirational description of 21st century America came into vogue about four years ago, as President Barack Obama raced to victory in the 2008 presidential election, and a great number of black and white Americans wanted to believe the nation was finally closing the books on its discriminatory history.

But no. President Obama’s election didn’t suddenly sweep away all the accumulated consequences of past racism in our society. The preexisting racial disparities, so engrained in the fabric of our economy and culture, didn’t erase themselves in the wake of his victory.

As my Progress 2050 colleagues Christian E. Weller, Julie Ajinkya, and Jane Farrell make regrettably clear in their recently released report, “The State of Communities of Color in the U.S. Economy: Still Feeling the Pain Three Years Into Recovery,” racial and ethnic minority groups aren’t living in a paradise free of racial disadvantage. Quite the contrary, their research demonstrates that people of color aren’t benefiting apace with white Americans as our nation gradually rebounds from the financial collapse and economic recession that gripped us all when President Obama took office:

[T]he data we summarize in this report shows that communities of color are substantially less likely than their white fellow citizens to enjoy the opportunities that come from having a good job, owning a home, and having a financial safety cushion in the form of health insurance, retirement benefits, and private savings. This difference exists because economic opportunities eroded faster for communities of color than for whites during the Great Recession—and those opportunities have been coming back much more slowly for communities of color than for whites during the economic recovery.

The disparities Weller, Ajinkya, and Farrell write about aren’t new. Anyone who’s paid scant attention to the drumbeat of sour economic news knows that white unemployment, while at near-record heights, never drew within spitting distance of the chronically high rates suffered by African Americans and Latinos. As a result of this one fact, my colleagues write, a host of other calamities followed for people of color during the economic downturn like toppling dominoes, including:

— Black Americans enjoying fewer job opportunities than all other racial and ethnic groups.

— Poverty rates, already higher for communities of color, rising faster in the recession and declining slower during recovery than for white Americans

— Homeownership, a major source of financial security, disappearing faster for black Americans during the recession and recovery than for white Americans

Those are old, bitter, and racially disparate facts. But what is especially galling is the yawning silence and indifference that seems to accompany the periodic recitation of them. Worse, there exists in some conservative quarters a refusal to acknowledge the truth and an eagerness to embrace discredited notions about postracialism. Acting as if racial disparities don’t exist or believing we’re now living in some fantasy world free of racial divisions is nothing more than an excuse to preserve the status quo. It serves to protect the advantages of those who are already employed and comfortable, while keeping racial and ethnic minorities locked out of the improving economy.

But despite the cloudy pessimism disclosed in the report, there also exists the opportunity for hopeful change. More than a catalogue of racial disparities, the report provides a roadmap for policies that, if implemented, would help equalize the burdens faced by people of color. Specifically, it suggests federal policies that would accelerate job creation, shore up unemployment insurance, raise the minimum wage, increase access to health insurance, and implement comprehensive immigration reform to protect workers’ rights.

Armed with the facts of disparity and a prescription for change, policymakers have no excuse for inaction. Reporting the bad news, as Weller, Ajinkya, and Farrell have done, removes the blinders from their eyes. Policymakers’ indifference to the pain of their fellow citizens can only be interpreted as willing refusal to ensure that all Americans—including communities of color—share equitably in the rebuilding and recovery of the nation’s economy.


By: Sam Fulwood III, Center for American Progress, Published in AlterNet, April 17, 2012

April 23, 2012 Posted by | Poverty | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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