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National Politics

Like Beck….Like Limbaugh??

Rush Limbaugh has said some quite outrageous things in his career as a radio host.  When you normally hear Limbaugh’s name, it is associated with red meat thrown to his clueless audience in a way that crosses the line very often. Let’s not forget the not so kind words he had to say about Michelle Obama, or his criticism of Donovan McNabb, which got him fired from ESPN. Even with these instances of stupidity and bigotry on Limbaugh’s part, his actions on Thursday were out of order.

He went after Sandra Fluke, who was a Georgetown University graduate student that testified before Congress regarding the lack of access to birth control pills at the University, as well as the cost.  He responded viciously, and the avalanche of criticism came soon after.  He used the term “slut”, and “prostitute” to describe Ms. Fluke. He even suggested that women who get subsidized contraception should make sexual encounters available for all to see:

On Saturday Limbaugh capitulated, and issued an apology. He changed course not because of remorse for his comments, but simply due to the fact that his sponsors were fleeing.  He may have thought what happened to Glenn Beck was coming his way.

My prediction is that Limbaugh will eventually be brought down a considerable notch because of this dust up. Will he be fired eventually? I don’t think it will go that far.


The “Southern Strategy” GOP is back

I can’t say that I was at all surprised by some of the tactics we’ve seen recently from Republican presidential candidates in particular.  Some may say that it’s expected  given Republicans history with employing racial politics when necessary, and that the recent statements by someone like Newt Gingrich can’t be that shocking.  Gingrich clip below:

He understands exactly what he is doing.  Many would argue that some Americans on food stamps take advantage of the system.  Some may, but determining the full extent is tricky.  Also, unfortunately some Americans hold a belief that African Americans make up a majority of food stamp recipients(actually 33%). Blogger Joshua Green does a great job of explaining why critics of President Obama on this issue should look in the mirror:

The number of food stamp recipients has indeed risen sharply, but this rise began under President George W. Bush and is largely attributable to the recession. Food stamps are an anti-poverty measure, so it’s no surprise that enrollment should rise when large numbers of people are out of work (the number of recipients dropped last month as the economy improved). But recession isn’t the only cause. A Bush administration initiative begun in 2002 dramatically increased participation rates among eligible households, from 48 percent to 72 percent in 2009.

Couple that together with the fact that if he’s the Republican candidate, he would be facing off against the nations first African American President.  Gingrich knew that the far right conservatives in South Carolina would eat it right up, and he went with it unfortunately.  He’s not the first candidate to stoop to the racial politics of old.

The Jessie Helms “Hands” ad was one of the most memorable political ads of all time.  It was both disgusting to watch, and sadly, very effective.  The Republican Senator from North Carolina was in a tough re-election fight.  His opponent was none other than up and coming  Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt.  Gantt was African American, and to Helms surprise, he was staying with him in the race.  Helms had to drop a bomb, which he did.  Racial politics was all too common in North Carolina at the time. Helms knew that he could play to peoples misconceptions about affirmative action, and use it as a wedge issue.

This next ad was unveiled by the Republican National Committee some years ago to attack Memphis Congressman Harold Ford, in his quest to defeat Republican Bob Corker in the Tennessee Senate race. Ford, like Harvey Gantt, was a young, ambitious African American politician that was on the rise.  Ford came from a political dynasty, and though he was a Democrat, stayed moderate.  This helped to position him to eventually run for the U.S. Senate, and he ran a very close race with Bob Corker.  I believe the RNC aired this ad because they were afraid of a Harold Ford upset.  Stoking some peoples hatred of interracial relations or dating seemed to be the strategy of choice for the Republicans.  Unfortunately this classless tactic worked. Corker squeaked out a close win.

As the 2012 election nears, I only wonder what some of the Republican operatives have up their sleeve.  They are very smart, and won’t present ads such as this unless the election seems to be extremely close.  I think in 2012 it might be a little tough to produce ads that have such strong racial undertones.  My prediction is that ads aired during the 2012 election will be a bit more discreet- just enough to not cause too much of an uproar. I’ll be watching, and analyzing.

Wrong move on Keystone XL

A picture of the current Keystone pipeline

On Wednesday, President Obama made the decision to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline project.  The 2,000 mile project would bring oil from the tar sands in Canada to refineries in the Gulf coast.  Supporters of the project argue that this project could be one big step of putting more Americans back to work.  TransCanada, which had been proposing to build the pipeline extension cites these statistics in support of the project:

  • 13,000 direct jobs would be created(pipe-fitters, welders,electricians, and other trades).
  • 7,000 manufacturing jobs will be created .
  • Local retail and service businesses near the pipeline will see an increase of 118,000 jobs because of increased business for goods and services.
  • Would increases capacity of pumping oil to 1.1 million barrels per day.

Many have also stated that acquiring oil from our North American neighbors instead of some countries in the Middle East that despise us makes lots of sense.  It seems though, that the opposition to building Keystone XL is just as passionate as the support.

Scores of environmentalist groups, and citizens living in states that may be affected have united in opposition to the pipeline. Reasoning for their opposition includes:

  • Increased green house gases and gas emissions will contribute to global warming and other environmental issues
  • The risk of contaminating the Ogalla Aquifier if the pipe breaks is of serious concern.  This aquifer spans, and provides clean drinking water for 2 million people, as well as supporting $20 billion in agriculture

Tim Parker of Investopedia pointed out some of the arguments people against the pipeline have made:

Critics of the pipeline have two main problems with the project. First, The National Wildlife Foundation published a report that claimed that the pipeline will run through or near water tables, wildlife refuges, aquifers, fisheries and crop land. Any breach in the pipeline could cause a catastrophic spill that would ruin the local habitat and endanger citizens if the water table is compromised.

Second, the NWF claims that TransCanada doesn’t have a good track record of safety. In one report, they list 12 TransCanada spills in 12 months, including a 21,000 gallon oil spill, and it’s not only TransCanada. From 1990 to 2005 there were more than 4,700 oil spills according to the same report.

To TransCanada’s credit, they have made some significant compromises with all parties concerned.  They finally agreed to even re-route the part of the pipeline that was to go through the Sandhills of Nebraska.  This allayed many of the concerns of many of the citizens of Nebraska, but the opposition continued by others.

A protest organized by people who oppose the Keystone XL project

The risk, proponents say, is that TransCanada may just end up attempting to just build a pipeline within Canada to the coast.  They would then just ship the oil to China.  Noted oilman T.Boone Pickens said as much when asked about his comments on the Obama Administrations decision.  TransCanada has invested quite alot in this project, and has the most to lose if the plan never comes to fruition.  Bloomberg Business Weekly’s Brad Olson sums up the challenges facing TransCanada now that the pipeline project has been rejected:

The price of gas has dropped 44 percent in the past 12 months as producers used hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling to tap oil and gas locked in shale rock formations across the country. Interest meanwhile has waned in expansions of nuclear power plants, in which TransCanada has invested, after reactors in Fukushima melted down after a March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Limited Growth

As a new application awaits approval, TransCanada will face limited growth prospects from the few projects it has pursued alongside the Keystone XL in nuclear power and renewable energy, said BMO’s Kirst.

The Obama Administration should have approved the Keystone XL project.  I do understand that Republicans put him in a tough spot by including a provision in the payroll tax cut bill that forced him to fast track a decision on the project by February 21st.  As expected, the President rejected the project on the grounds that a deadline so soon did not give his administration adequate time to vet the project.  He was very direct in why he had to make this decision, saying that, “The rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment,”.

I feel that even with these arguments for why the decision was made,I feel a huge mistake has been made in this case.  Safety should be priority number 1, especially after the gulf coast oil spill disaster.  Safety concerns have been adequately addressed…so much so that the state of Nebraska has compromised and found a solution most of their citizens will be comfortable with it.  From a political perspective, I also understand that he was under immense political pressure from his left flank(environmentalists). They have legitimate concerns, and also big pockets to assist in fundraising for the general election.  He could have bucked them on this one decision though, because many unions were actually in support of the bill as a way to put many of their unemployed members to work.  They would have given him a bit of political cover on this decision.

Lastly, from  jobs perspective, this was a poor decision.  I’m sure we could argue back and forth about whether the “13,000 jobs created” number is accurate.  You could also argue that many activists dispute jobs created numbers with a wide array of individuals seeking to develop property or relocate businesses just about anywhere.  At the end of the day, a job is a job.  There are over four million Americans who have been unemployed for over a year.  These individuals are looking for work not later, but now!

We must all keep in mind that President Obama said that he would not completely scrap the project, but that he would make a decision on new applications after the election.  He will come to his senses in January of 2013, and the project will begin.  That is my prediction.

Rick Santorum On Obama, Abortion: “Almost Remarkable For A Black Man’ To Say We Can Decide Who’s A Person”

I tell you folks, I don’t make this stuff up, I only report it. Former Republican Senator Rick Santorum was recently on CSN News to discuss the topic of abortion, and President Obama’s views on the subject. We all know that Santorum is a very vocal pro-lifer, which I have no problem with. I can even understand why he might disagree with the stance that President Obama and others have taken on abortion.

He loses me when he decides to bring race into the equation to use in the context of the conversation that he is having. Santorum cannot understand why President Obama will not answer whether a “human life” is protected by the Constitution at the moment of conception. I can even understand his frustrations…but then he says this:

The question is — and this is what Barack Obama didn’t want to answer — is that human life a person under the Constitution? And Barack Obama says no. Well if that person — human life is not a person, then — I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say, ‘we’re going to decide who are people and who are not people

Below is the clip of this moron in action:

I cannot understand why the race of President Obama has anything to do with his views on abortion. Is Santorum implying that there is some truth to the racist and stereotypical thinking that stated that African Americans were less than human? Does he believe that it is not the black mans place to even have an opinion on when human life begins or ends? This type of talk doesn’t surprise me at all…especially coming from a guy like Santorum. I guess its at least good that he is open, upfront, and honest about his racist beliefs. I have more respect for a racist who at least makes his views known, instead of concealing them.

I wont sit here and equate all Republicans with the views of Santorum, but lets be honest….more Republicans than Rick Santorum subscribe to this thinking, but they keep it to themselves and would never state it publicly. Good luck with Republicans and recruitment of minorities…make them feeel right at home, why don’t you.