Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Name:
Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Made to Kill


The Oneonta Daily Star published a succinct letter to the editor by Rev. Susan R. Burdsall stating: “Guns DO kill people.  That’s what they were made for.”
How many clergymen, rabbis, priest and nuns feel the need to own guns to hunt, target practice and protect themselves?
Many of our founding fathers were white supremacist, who owned hundreds of slaves. They were arrogant male aristocrats, who didn't think women, slaves, or men; who didn't own land deserved the right to vote.  Those values were rejected over a century ago.  Those values were again rejected in the election last month, by a majority of women, African-Americans, and men that didn't own land. 
The killing of 20 school children in Newtown has resulted in lot of politicians recognizing that America’s gun culture is horrific, and many congressional NRA members are running scared.  They’re looking for something to do like reinstating an assault weapons ban that is largely cosmetic.
Justin Vernold a copy editor at The Daily Star pointed out: “The Bill of Rights does not afford individuals the right to a Browning .50 caliber machine gun or a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and a $2,000 assault rifle that can be converted to fully automatic fire with a $50 kit is in no meaningful way different.
“The argument that AR-15s and high-capacity handguns are needed as a “defense against tyranny” is also untenable unless followed to its horrifyingly dystopian conclusion.  If the Second Amendment is truly about fending off tyranny — based on a creative interpretation of the Bill of Rights — then logically, heavy machine guns, artillery and anti-aircraft weapons must be legal.  Beating back 21st century federalist forces would necessitate nothing less.  And handguns, with their limited combat capacity, would be the least of any patriot’s concerns.”

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Militia Acts


As a response to online comments, Andrew Reinbach provided the following factual information:
“I'm sorry to have to burst the bubble of ‘the Second Amendment was designed to allow the people to defend themselves against a tyrannical government’ folk, but the  legislative history subsequent to the Second Amendment's passage doesn't support that assertion.  In fact the legislative history very clearly supports the notion that widespread gun ownership in the United States was intended to defend the government from insurrection, and to supplement--in the early days, largely substitute for--a standing Army.
“Congress passed two Militia Acts in 1792.  The first established state militias under control of each state’s governor.  The second directed all able-bodied white men between the ages of 18 and 45 to belong to the state militia, own a gun and related equipment for that purpose, and report for duty twice a year.  The law even specified how many bullets each militia member had to bring with him--25 if he owned a musket, 20 if he owned a rifle.  After the Civil War the Acts were modified to allow black militia members.  In 1903, the state militias were merged with the National Guard.
“Aside from frontier fights with the Indian Nations, the militia was used twice between 1792 and 1814; against the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pa. (led in person by George Washington); and at Bladensburg, Md. to defend Washington DC against the British in 1814 (the militia ran at the first volley, thus the encounter was called the Bladenburg Races).  There was one previous use of a militia, in 1786, when the Article of Confederation were in force; in that case, Shay's Rebellion in western Massachusetts was put down by a private militia after Shay's men attacked the Springfield armory.
“There is no record of any legally-constituted militia ‘defending the people against a tyrannical government’; under the Constitution--that would be construed as treason, defined therein as ‘waging war against the United States...”--unless you wanted to call the Civil War as an example.  Even then, however, the use of state armies in that way fit the Constitution's definition of treason; it was simply expedient, after the War, to let the prospect go.
“Thus you can see that the militia in the United States was an instrument of the state from the first, and meant to defend the nation and put down insurrection--never to safeguard the people from the state.  The record also makes clear that personal gun ownership was encouraged to arm the militia.  Of course, lots of people owned muskets or rifles then anyway, and in general, nobody cared; but now you see why the Second Amendment has two clauses in that one sentence, and can't be understood without considering all of it.
“What bothers me in this discussion is the fact that the boards of the NRA, the Gun Owners of America, etc. all know the historical and legislative record; they're smart guys, after all.  That means they're pushing this meme knowing it's untrue.  And by using an untrue idea to argue in favor of unrestricted ownership of guns like AR-15s, or accessories like 30-round clips, they're committing honest gun owners who support them to a losing political proposition that is likely, given the mood of the country, to result in more extensive gun control legislation than would otherwise get passed.  This defeats their own main idea and, quite frankly, betrays the trust of their supporters.  It's only worse that they probably know what they're doing, and are doing it anyway.”

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Three Important Facts


Three important facts to consider to fully understand the budget debate.

#1.  The Simpson-Bowles bipartisan debt reduction plan was by any reasonable accounting far to the left of anything Obama has proposed.  It called for $2.6 trillion in tax increases, that is more than twice as much as what the White House is asking for.  It called for more defense cuts than the administration has ever considered.

Paul Ryan was on the Simpson-Bowles commission, and he voted against that very significant reduction plan, as did every other House Republican on the commission.

The Obama administration brought out a compromise to the right of Simpson-Bowles, that they thought would have a better chance of passing.  But, House Republicans brought out the Paul Ryan budget, and there was no compromise in it at all. 

#2.  After Republicans won the midterm election, Obama agreed to a deal that was all spending cuts.  The Budget Control Act cuts spending by $1.5 trillion over the next decade.  Except for a small increase in Pell Grants funding, the bill is all cuts, and no tax increases. 

#3.  Even after winning the 2012 election, Obama has moved much farther toward Speaker Boehner than Boehner has moved toward the White House.  From the first offer in November to the last one in which the Obama dropped what he wanted from tax increases by $400 billion, raised proposed spending cuts by the same amount and lowered his demand on stimulus by about another $250 billion. 

Boehner increased his offer on taxes by about $150 billion, dropped his spending cuts by $330 billion, and has never offered significant stimulus or a major concession on the debt ceiling.

In every category, since he won the election, Obama has moved further towards Boehner than Boehner moved towards him.  And yet, it’s Boehner who walked away from the talks with his Plan B, who failed to pass it and said it’s the Senate’s problem now.

Democrats won the election. They got more votes at the presidential level, at the Senate level and at the House level.  John Boehner is Speaker of the House, because of the way the congressional districts are drawn.  His arguments didn’t win, but he has not moved towards compromise.

Reasonable Americans can’t look at the last three years and say the White House hasn’t tried to come together with Republicans. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Chuck Hagel


President Obama’s choice for secretary of state, Senator John Kerry is expected to sail through the Senate confirmation process.  However, Obama hasn’t officially name his choice for the next secretary of defense.  The candidate who is reportedly the White House’s top choice is former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska could prove to be difficult.

Chuck Hagel’s been attacked by neocons for his views or Iranian sanctions, engaging groups like Hamas and past statements he’s made critical of the Israeli lobby.

"The Washington Post" reported that a group of former national security advisers, including James Jones, Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski have all defended Hagel by saying he is "a man of unshakable integrity and wisdom who has served his country in the most distinguished manner in peace and war."

Senators, Lindsey Graham and the retiring Joseph Lieberman are both hawkish on national defense and both expressed apprehension regarding Hagel’s nomination.

Senator Graham stated: “A lot of Republicans are going to ask him hard questions, and I don’t think he’s going to get many Republican votes.

Senator Lieberman added: “I wouldn’t say that his votes disqualify him, but if I were in the Senate on the Armed Services Committee, and he was nominated, I would have some really serious questions to ask him.”

Tom Friedman of "The New York Times” defended Hagel from anti-Israel charges.  He wrote: “I am certain that the vast majority of U.S. senators and policy-makers quietly believe exactly what Hagel believes on Israel, that it is surrounded by more implacable enemies than ever and needs and deserves America’s backing.  But, at the same time, this Israeli government is so spoiled and has shifted so far to the right, that it makes no effort to take U.S. interest into account by slowing itself, isolating settlement adventure.”

Thursday, December 27, 2012

No Deal


Last week, House Speaker John Boehner pushed for a vote on a bill even though it had no chance of surviving in the Senate.

Boehner’s "Plan B" made tax increases permanent for incomes above $1 million.  It only includes $1 trillion in tax revenue and the rest was unspecified, and it didn’t included a deal to raise the debt ceiling.

Boehner claimed: “President Obama and Senate Democrats haven’t done much of anything.  Their "Plan B" is just slow-walk us over the fiscal cliff.  And for weeks the White House said that if I moved on rate, that they would make substantial concessions on spending cuts and entitlement reforms.  I did my part.  They’ve done nothing.”
Obama’s opening offer was $1.6 trillion in new revenue, but in an effort to avoid a crisis, he dropped it to $1.4 trillion.  After a counteroffer, Obama dropped it down to $1.2 trillion.  That was halfway between the president’s first offer and Speaker Boehner’s first offer of $800 billion.  Obama also changed his offer on taxes for incomes above $250,000, which was his proposal during the presidential campaign.  He offered a deal to increase taxes only for those earning more than $400,000, which many Obama supporters are opposed to.

Boehner responsed: “Frankly, I’m convinced that the president is unwilling to stand up to his own party on the big issues that face our country.”  

Actually, Speaker Boehner got a good deal from the president, but he couldn’t sell it to his own members.  Grover Norquist even gave his blessing to "Plan B", by saying that it wouldn’t violate his anti-tax pledge.

Instead of defense cuts, the Republican plan cut funding for food stamps, eliminated child tax credit and ended unemployment benefits for millions of Americans.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The ATF

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives has atrophied from being politically undermined for many years.  Senate Republicans won’t allow anybody to ensure the safe and legal operation of the multibillion dollar gun market. 

Recently, President Obama said: “There is already a growing consensus for us to build from.  A majority of Americans support banning the sale of military-style assault weapons.  A majority of Americans support banning the sale of high capacity ammunition clips.  A majority of Americans support laws requiring background checks before all gun purchases so that criminals can’t take advantage of legal loopholes to buy a gun from somebody who won’t take the responsibility of doing a background check at all.

“I urge the new Congress to hold votes on these measures next year in a timely manner.  And considering Congress hasn’t confirmed a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms in six years, the agency that works most closely with state and local law enforcement to keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals, I’d suggest that they make this a priority early in the year.

“If we work harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be fewer atrocities like the one in Newtown, or any of the lesser known tragedies that visit small towns and big cities all across America every day.” 

The conservative movement and the gun manufacturer’s lobby did not allowed anybody to run the ATF for the last 2 years, of George W. Bush’s presidency, and for the entire time that Obama has been president. 

In 2006, Republicans in Congress got an amendment added to the reauthorization of the Patriot Act.  It made the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives a Senate confirmable position.

We are a nation with over 300 million guns, and the worst gun violence problem of any industrialized nation on Earth, but we’re allowed to have only an interim acting director.  The current one is a part-time commuter, who has another job being the U.S. attorney for the state of Minnesota.  The same was true at the end of the Bush administration, when the ATF’s interim acting director was also a commuter, whose other job was the U.S. attorney in Bost0n.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Peace Through Guns


The following is an excerpt from an article written by John Ryan, a Catholic friend of mine, and posted on this website on Christmas Day 2006. 

“There are those who will tell us that this is all high sentiment and wishful thinking, that it has little to do with the reality of life and they present a strong argument to justify their point of view.  For what has been achieved in 2,000 years?  The child grew up only to suffer, to be abused and to be sent into an early and ignominious grave.  Despite his efforts, the world changed little - wars, plagues and famines continue. It’s business as usual.  If the Lord intended to bring about a change, He did quite a poor job of it.

“But we continue to wait, knowing that the failure is not the Lord’s but is ours, that we still don’t understand the reality of existence that Jesus showed us, that we still put our faith in the things of this world rather than in what can come to be.  As a nation we say, "In God We Trust" but we really don’t believe it.  Considering where we put our money, it appears that we have more faith in hardware - Abrams tanks, Stealth fighters, Nimitz carriers - all the accouterments of war with which we hope to find "security."  Yet, despite the trillions spent, we still send off our young people to fight and fall in foreign lands, we still live in uncertainty and fear.  We should see that such security is a phantom but, still, we continue to squander more and more of our wealth and blood pursuing this will-o’-the-wisp.

“I remember in my army days, my regimental chaplain gave me a small, GI-issue prayer book.  On it’s cover was printed, "Pro Deo et Pro Patria" (For God and Country).  At the time (I was only nineteen), it never occurred to me that there could be a conflict between the two for America was the beacon on the hill, the land good and true.  If growing up is losing your illusions, I was an adolescent much longer than I should have been for I supported the folly of peace through guns for far too long.

“At one time or another, we all go astray, forgetting what we are called to be.  So, each year, Jesus comes to us anew to show us the way, to try to make clear to us once again where real life lies, to offer us another chance to hear the words of understanding.”

Monday, December 24, 2012

Our Obsolete Constitution


Two years before President Reagan signed the plastic gun ban, he signed a ban on civilian sales or use of armor-piercing bullets, that are designed to penetrate body armor.  The vote to ban plastic guns was a very lopsided vote, with 413 votes in favor and only four votes against.  Rep. Dick Cheney was one of the votes against banning undetectable plastic guns designed to slip by metal detectors and airport X-ray machines when he was in the Congress.  While in Congress, Cheney also voted against the Reagan ban on bullets designed to pierce body armor. 

In 1993, President Clinton signed a bill named for James Brady, who was also shot when John Hinckley tried to assassinate Reagan.  The Brady Bill instituted a federal background check system for people buying guns.  There are numerous loopholes to the background check system, but it didn’t exist at all before the Brady Bill.  

In 1994, after a mass shooting at a law firm in San Francisco perpetrated by a man with two semi-automatic pistols, took eight lives before he took his own.  California Senator Dianne Feinstein propose a ban on 19 types of semiautomatic rifles, pistols and shotguns and the first assault weapons ban was passed.  Unfortunately, the bill came up for renewal in 2004, and the administration of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney made sure it expired.

About one million Americans, presently own semi-automatic assault weapons that require the tigger be pulled every time one bullet is fired.  

Recently, Dianne Feinstein announced: “I’m going to introduce this bill in the Senate.  And the same bill will be introduced in the House, a bill to ban assault weapons.  It will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation and the possession, not retroactively, but prospectively.  And it will ban the same for big clips, drums or strips of more than 10 bullets.  So there will be a bill, we’ve been working on it now for a year.  We’ve tried to take my bill from ‘94 to 2004 and perfect it.  We believe we have.  We exempt over 900 specific weapons that will not fall under the bill.”  

Although, the purpose of the bill is to achieve what Mayor Bloomberg said regarding taking weapons of war off the streets of our city, it won’t work.  Repealing the Second Amendment to our obsolete Constitution is the only sensible and permanent solution.  

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Largely Cosmetic


The killing of 20 young school children in Newtown, Connecticut has resulted in lot of politicians recognizing that America’s gun culture is horrific, and many congressional NRA members are running scared.  They’re looking for something to do like reinstating the assault weapons ban that was largely cosmetic.

Some insists that it’s not just about guns.  It’s about what people have to do in order to get guns.  Potential gun owners should have to prove that they understand the law regarding the use of guns.  They should have to prove they know how to use a gun, store their gun, and how to clean their gun.

Every gun owner should have to go through a background check, whether they buy the gun at a gun show or anywhere else.  The gun show loophole is absurd.  The fact that a person can buy a weapon from a gun dealer and go through a background check.  But, across the street to a gun show, no background check is required.  Apparently, we have gun shows, so that mentally disturbed people and criminals can buy their guns without a background check.

We have a Supreme Court that believes in the purest interpretation of the 2nd Amendment.  Forget the issue of a “well regulated militia,” give everybody a gun.  Driving a car on our highways requires a license, but holding a gun at any age, for any reason seems to be a right, as defined by our present Supreme Court.

The NRA will be looking for any traitor, who dares to vote for any kind of restriction on gun ownership.  In the end, if all that gets accomplished by gun reform is a ban on a certain type of weapon, or a magazine with a capacity of less than 100 bullets, meaningful reform will have failed.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Mass Killings


There hasn’t been a head of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms division of the Department of Justice, for six years.  The NRA and gun lobbyists have effectively stymied the organization in charge of enforcement of gun laws in America.

They represent a very strong political force trying to push an agenda for the gun dealers and manufacturers, that’ll sell more sophisticated and expensive firearms.

The late Charlton Heston never made an ad for the NRA, waving an AK-15, or a 30 round clip in the air, because the NRA didn’t want people to see state of the art weapons designed specifically for mass killing.

Those are military assault weapons, and had law enforcement not turned up in Newtown, Connecticut when it did the list of children and teachers killed would have been much longer.

In Aurora, Colorado, the killer stood in front of a crowded theater, spraying that audience with an assault weapons, and the only thing that stopped him from emptying the 100 cartridges that he had to shoot was that the weapon jammed.

In 1934, Congress demonstrated the wisdom by outlaw machine guns, when we had "Machine Gun" Kelly and gangsters in Chicago killing people during the Prohibition era. 

Sportsmen and hunters may hate what happened in Newtown, Connecticut, and claim, that they don’t want criminals to be heavier armed than a law enforcement officer, who carries .38 police special, but reasonable limitation won’t be supported by their representatives in Congress.  

Killers will continue to enter school with military assault weapons, several 30 round clip of ammunition and body armor, until Congress forces all gun owners to surrender their weapons.  Arm teacher in school, and we’ll see school buses full of students attacked.  Will the NRA expect taxpayers to provided armored personnel carriers to replace school busses?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Man Card Reissued


Our founding fathers recognized, that they couldn’t predict the future.  Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter to James Madison: “No society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law.  The earth always belongs to the living generation.… Every constitution, then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of 19 years.  If it goes longer, it is and act of force and not of right.”

George Washington wrote: “The warmest friends and best supporters the Constitution has, do not contend that it is free from imperfections; but they found them unavoidable and are sensible, if evil is likely to arise there from, the remedy must come hereafter; for in the present moment, it is not to be obtained; as there is a Constitutional door open for it, I think the People (for it is with them to Judge) can as they will have the advantage of experience on their Side, decide with as much propriety on the alterations and amendments which are necessary as ourselves.  I do not think we are more inspired, have more wisdom, or possess more virtue, than those who will come after us.”

Today, our "well regulated militia," is called our National Guard.  Repealing the Second Amendment is long over due.  Some of those that are most determined to keep their automatic assault weapons are interested in overthrowing our present duly elected democratic government.  If voter suppression doesn't work at the ballot box, the radical ideologues among us are prepared to use bullets.

There hasn’t been a head of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms division of the Department of Justice, for six years.  The NRA and gun lobbyists have effectively stopped the organization in charge of enforcement of gun laws in America.  A political force is pushing an agenda for the gun dealers and manufacturers, that’ll sell more sophisticated and expensive firearms.

I can't understand why target shooting and hunting is such a popular activity.  How about trying a dart board or buying your meat at the grocery store?  It has got to be a lot less expensive.  Could it be, that part America’s fascination with guns is proving to yourself, that you're a REAL man?

If you're anxious about your masculinity, the Bushmaster corporation has an answer for you.  If you buy a semi-automatic rifles like the one Adam Lanza used to murder 20 children, you may "Consider your Man Card reissued."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Issues to Consider



National Voting Standards

Speaking at the John F. Kennedy Library, Attorney General Eric Holder insisted that it’s time to consider national voting standards.  He pointed to a MacArthur Foundation study that found nearly 90% of voters support the creation of national standards.  Holder urged election officials to strive to administer elections more efficiently and fairly.

He said: "this means taking steps to address long lines at polling places and ensure that every polling place has an adequate number of voting machines.  We must acknowledge that giving our fellow citizens access to the voting booth for longer hours and over additional days will enable more of them to cast their ballots without unduly interfering with work or family obligations that so many have."

Meantime, the Republican Party isn’t giving up their fight over voter suppression.  Some of the most repressive laws in the country have come in swing states with Republican governors.  

The Attorney General didn’t recommend any specific legislation, but he did call on leaders to start a dialogue and work toward improving our election  As the head of the Justice Department, Eric Holder should be one of the leaders to organize and lead that conversation.

Same Sex Marriage 

We often judge presidents on whether they stand up to the moment of history in which they live.  President Obama step up on "Don`t ask, don`t tell,"and now has spoken out on the issue of gay marriage by saying that be won’t enforce DOMA.  We’ll soon see if, the Supreme Court will also keep pace with the other major changes of our time.

The rights of liberty and property cannot be denied to a citizen except through due process of law.  We’ve got to do break a law to lose our liberty.  You’ve got to be found guilty of a crime.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fiscal Cliff Negotiations


House Speaker John Boehner has offered to allow income tax rates to increase for wealthy Americans in exchange for spending cuts, tax reform and entitlement reform in fiscal cliff negotiations.
Boehner offered to allow tax rates to go up on American families earning $1 million or more.  Obama wants rates to increase for households earning more than $250,000.
Last year, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky introduced the Fairness in Taxation Act in the House of Representatives.  The Act would have provide new tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires.  A new bracket of 45% would be created for those earning over a million dollars.  Taxes for those making over $10 million would go up 1 percent to 46%.  For incomes over $20 million, it would be 47%.  For incomes over $100 million dollars, the tax rate would be 48%.  The top tax bracket would be for incomes over $1 billion dollars at 49%.

Those incomes, which are common in our economy.  All of those rates are still lower than the top tax bracket when Ronald Reagan was president.  All of those income levels are presently taxed at a maximum of only 35%.

Everyone who lives at those income levels typically employ accountants and lawyers who find legal tax avoidance strategies (loopholes) that reduce their real income tax rate to something far below 35%.  

Currently, the top tax bracket begins at $373,000 of income and fails to distinguish between the “well off” and billionaires.  For example, the top 20 hedge fund managers average income last year was over $1 billion.  All of those tax brackets are more than affordable at those income levels.

Unfortunately, tax increases on billionaires and millionaires wouldn’t even come close to raising a sufficient amount of revenues, and Speaker Boehner knows that.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Federal Statistics


A comparison of federal statistics, between union states and non-union states show that people in so-called right-to-work states make $5,500 less per year.  Non-union states spend more than $2,600 less on every school student.  The workplace fatality rate in right to work states is almost 53% higher.

In nonunion states 14% of workers are uninsured.  That is almost five times more than the average among union workers.  Women and African- Americans earn more if they work in union-friendly states.  And, Hispanics make twice as much in union-friendly states.

Prior to the election, Republican Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan said right to work was a divisive issue, but has now signed right to work legislation into law, making Michigan the 24th right to work state.

Gov. Snyder and the lame duck Republicans in the Michigan legislature claim they’re helping the states’ economy, but Michigan voters don’t agree.  A recent poll showed that only 6% of voters surveyed wanted the legislature to make Michigan a right-to-work state.

In a right-to- work state, non-union workers enjoy the advantage of union wages and legal protections without paying any dues.  The United Auto Workers constitution clearly states that any worker who does not want to be a member of the union does not have to be.  They still work.  The question is, do citizens in a community pay their fair share for police, fire, snow removal, or any of the services they get from that community?

President Obama has pointed out: “You know, these so-called right-to-work laws, they do not have to do with economics.  They have everything to do with politics.  What they are really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tragedies Must End


The following is an excerpt from President Obama’s remarks at the Prayer Vigil at Newton High School.                                                                                                                                                                                       

“In the coming weeks, I will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens -- from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators -- in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.  Because what choice do we have?  We can’t accept events like this as routine.  Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?  Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?
“All the world’s religions -- so many of them represented here today -- start with a simple question:  Why are we here?  What gives our life meaning?  What gives our acts purpose?  We know our time on this Earth is fleeting.  We know that we will each have our share of pleasure and pain; that even after we chase after some earthly goal, whether it’s wealth or power or fame, or just simple comfort, we will, in some fashion, fall short of what we had hoped.  We know that no matter how good our intentions, we will all stumble sometimes, in some way.  We will make mistakes, we will experience hardships.  And even when we’re trying to do the right thing, we know that much of our time will be spent groping through the darkness, so often unable to discern God’s heavenly plans. 
“There’s only one thing we can be sure of, and that is the love that we have -- for our children, for our families, for each other.  The warmth of a small child’s embrace -- that is true.  The memories we have of them, the joy that they bring, the wonder we see through their eyes, that fierce and boundless love we feel for them, a love that takes us out of ourselves, and binds us to something larger -- we know that’s what matters.  We know we’re always doing right when we’re taking care of them, when we’re teaching them well, when we’re showing acts of kindness.  We don’t go wrong when we do that. 
“That’s what we can be sure of.  And that’s what you, the people of Newtown, have reminded us.  That’s how you’ve inspired us.  You remind us what matters.  And that’s what should drive us forward in everything we do, for as long as God sees fit to keep us on this Earth.”

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Medicare Savings


There are significant savings available in Medicare, and President Obama has proposed $350 billion of savings over 10 years without touching benefits.

Republicans talk about Medicare reform, but they don’t mean that they’re going to reduce costs of our health care system.  They mean they’re going to unload those rising health care costs onto the backs of senior citizens. 

Obama and congressional Democrats have a different approach.  The Affordable Care Act reduce the overall expenditures without simply passing them on.

Raising the Medicare eligibility age will shifts rising health care costs, when the median income of a senior on Medicare is below $22,000.  Shifting the costs to 65 year olds, would shift the cost back to employers and the new exchanges which are going to be created in a year and a half. 

Currently a law, put in place during the Bush administration, prevents our federal government from negotiate drug prices.  The Veterans Administration is allowed to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, but congressional Republicans seem determined to protect powerful corporations, that make substancial donations to their candidates.

This is about the American economy and balancing our budget.  Congressional Republicans and Medicare providers are going to be taking a lot of hits in these situation.  The Obama administration is going to be making cuts in many other areas, because they know that there is a lot of fraud going on.  Recently, it was reported that our government discovered about $28 billion of fraud in the past year and a half in the Medicare system.  

We need to also make sure that the payments to doctors and providers are both adequate and not unnecessarily high.  We’ve done a lot of prevention, and have already seen the inflation rate in Medicare reduced significantly, by the Affordable Healthcare Act.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Innocent Children


Yesterday afternoon, President Obama made the following statement in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room.
“We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years.  And each time I learn the news I react not as a President, but as anybody else would -- as a parent.  And that was especially true today.  I know there’s not a parent in America who doesn’t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do. 
“The majority of those who died today were children -- beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old.  They had their entire lives ahead of them -- birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.  Among the fallen were also teachers -- men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams. 
“So our hearts are broken today -- for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults who were lost.  Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors as well, for as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children’s innocence has been torn away from them too early, and there are no words that will ease their pain. 
“As a country, we have been through this too many times.  Whether it’s an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago -- these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children.  And we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.
“This evening, Michelle and I will do what I know every parent in America will do, which is hug our children a little tighter and we’ll tell them that we love them, and we’ll remind each other how deeply we love one another.  But there are families in Connecticut who cannot do that tonight.  And they need all of us right now.  In the hard days to come, that community needs us to be at our best as Americans.  And I will do everything in my power as President to help.
“Because while nothing can fill the space of a lost child or loved one, all of us can extend a hand to those in need -- to remind them that we are there for them, that we are praying for them, that the love they felt for those they lost endures not just in their memories but also in ours.
“May God bless the memory of the victims and, in the words of Scripture, heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.”

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fundamental Right


The Supreme Court has agreed to take up the issue of same-sex marriage.  The question is whether it’s constitutional for a state to deny people of the same sex the right to marry under the law.

The 14th Amendment: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.  No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protections of the laws."

In 2003 case, Justice Anthony Kennedy, in his majority opinion declared anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional: "Does a statute making it a crime for two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct violate the due process clause?  Yes.  A statute making it a crime for two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct violates the due process law."

"Liberty protects the person from unwarranted government intrusions.  Freedom extends beyond spatial bounds.  Liberty presumes an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression and certain intimate conduct.  The defendants are adults, and their conduct was in private and consensual.  To declare the issue as one related to the right to engage in certain sexual conduct demeans the claim the individual put forward."

Historically, the Supreme Court has called marriage a fundamental right 14 times, and today many Americans are optimistic that once the court examines the Defense Of Marriage Act, a majority of Justices will come down on the side of freedom, liberty and and equal protection of our laws.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Unions


Right to work legislation prohibits paying union dues as a condition of employment.  Historically, whenever right to work laws are passed, union membership goes down along with workers’ wages.  This is all part of the Republican effort to dismantle the Democratic base by union busting.  

Unions have been the most effective organization leading the fight to help working families.  They’ve been the great equalizer.  In fact, currently the top six states where unemployment is highest are all right to work states.

What right to work laws mean is the right to work for less, and they’re undemocratic.  When the majority of a company’s workers say we want a union, there ought to be a union and everybody should pay for it, because everybody is going to benefit from it.

Republican president Dwight Eisenhower said: “Workers have a right to organize into unions and to bargain collectively with their employers.  And a strong, free labor movement is an invigorating and necessary part of our industrial society.  Only a fool would try to deprive working men and women of their right to join the union of their choice.” 

“Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear from that party again in our political history.  There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things, but their number is negligible, and they are stupid.”                                                 

Eisenhower’s party platform called for action "to protect more effectively the rights of labor unions."  It insisted: "The protection of the right of workers to organize into unions and to bargain collectively is the firm and permanent policy of the Eisenhower administration."     

On Sept. 1, 1980, Ronald Reagan said: “Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost”  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Just Make It Up


#1  For years every official in Hawaii, Democrat and Republican, and news outlet have investigated and confirmed that Obama was born on Aug. 4, 1961, at Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital.

Hawaii’s Governor Neil Abercrombie knew President Obama’s mother and father.  He said: “It's an insult to his mother and father.  It is disrespectful to the president; it is disrespectful to the office."

People of the birther persuasion believe in the conspiracy theory that Obama’s mother came up with the idea, that her son would become president some day, so she married a man from Africa with the name Obama, and plotted, that since she had the baby in Africa, she’d lie about it and put out newspaper accounts that her son was actually born in Hawaii.

#2  Despite a last-minute appearance by former GOP Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole in support of the treaty, Republicans mustered enough opposition to defeat the “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”  Supporters, including Dole, Senators McCain, and Kerry.  Kerry described the treaty as essentially enshrining the Americans with Disabilities Act as an international standard.  He highlighted the treaty’s support among veterans groups. 

The treaty’s detractors, including Tea Party Republican former senator Rick Santorum, who raised the possibility of “international bureaucrats” making child-care decisions in place of parents, including potentially restricting home schooling.  Of course, these paranoid fear-mongers don’t explain how that could possibly happen.

All international treaties require a two-thirds majority of those present and voting, so supporters fell five votes short.  Majority Leader Harry Reid vowed another vote in 2013. 

Senator John Kerry commented: “If the facts are against you, then argue the law.  If the law is against you, then argue the facts.  And if both are against you, just make it up.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Struggle Continues


In 1816 Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter: “I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and to bid defiance to the laws of our country.”

With the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of Citizens United, and overturning a longstanding precedent prohibiting corporations from spending their general treasury funds in our elections, corporations appeared to have won, but President Obama and informed voters were able to defeat those moneyed corporations.

Wealth distribution works both ways.  In May 2005, Warren Buffett warned: “The rich people are doing so well in this county, I mean we never had it so good... It’s class warfare, my class is winning, but they shouldn’t be... Right now corporate profits as a percentage of GDP in this country are right at the high.  Corporate taxes as a percentage of total taxes raised are very close to the historical low.”

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky as pointed out: “In the United States today, the richest 1% owns 34 % of our nation’s wealth – that’s more than the entire bottom 90%, who own just 29% of the country’s wealth.”  And the top one-hundredth of 1% now makes an average of $27 million per household per year.  The average income for the bottom 90% of Americans is $31,244.  It’s time for millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share, which is why I introduced the Fairness in Taxation Act.  This isn’t about punishment or revenge.  It’s about fairness.  It’s about avoiding budget cuts that harm middle class families and those who aspire to it.  We can choose to cut education, job creation and health care, or we can choose to ask those who can contribute more to do so.”

Monday, December 10, 2012

United Nation Conspiracy


 Recently, the Senate had to decide whether to ratify a treat to protect people with disabilities around the world.  The vote not to ratify that treaty served as an example on how powerful and ridiculous Tea Party Republicans can be, with their United Nation conspiracy theories.

The treaty ensures equal opportunity for disabled adults and children around the world.  It’s supported by every major veterans and disability group in America; 152 countries have already ratified the treaty, including China and Russia.  

The treaty is modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act, the landmark law, former Republican Senator Robert Dole co-sponsored.  In 1990, the Republican-sponsored idea won huge bipartisan support, and has become a model for the rest of the world.  

At 89 year of age, Dole came to the Senate floor in a wheelchair to support the U.N. treaty, but the treaty failed 61 to 38.  Only eight Republicans voted for the treaty.

In their, effort to undermine our democracy, Tea Party Republicans are more deeply committed to a strategy of fomenting paranoia about the role of government than they are supporting our men and women in uniform.  

Senator John Kerry responded: “If the facts are against you, then argue the law.  If the law is against you, then argue the facts.  And if both are against you, just make it up.

“Well, that’s exactly what’s happening.  Because to join it is to keep faith with the men and women who have suffered grievous disability in defense of our nation.  And we owe them nothing less.

“This treaty is not about changing America.  It’s about America changing the world.  This vote is to test whether the Senate will stand up for those who cannot see or hear and whether senators can hear the truth and see the facts.”

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Filibuster Reform


Senate Republicans have filibustered legislation like the Veterans Jobs Act, and killed thousands of jobs in the process.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants changes to the filibuster rules.  He’d make filibuster debates public and provide a shorter time frame for breaking filibusters.  These are minor reforms and the filibuster can still be used.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is against reform and claimed the changes were an effort to marginalize the minority party.  Senate Reid refuted McConnell’s claim by referencing a comment by Senator John McCain, who said: “Mr. Chairman, I again apologized for what seems to have happened.  And much to my dismay, it lends some credence to the argument that maybe we ought not to do business the way that we are doing here in the United States Senate.”

McCain blamed Senator Rand Paul for holding up amendments on the Defense Authorization Bill.  In fact, McCain gave credence to filibuster reform.  His comments disputed Mitch McConnell’s bogus claim, that filibuster reform is an effort to marginalize the minority party.  

Senator Debbie Stabenow pointed out: “The last six years, there were 386 filibusters.  In the six years that Lyndon Johnson was the majority leader, there was one.  Because it was only used in the most extraordinary of circumstances.  Now they do it on everything.  Even a Department of Defense bill that ended up passing 98 to zero.  Rule changes are simply a way to make the Senate work again.” 

Stabenow added: “I believe that we are going to see change.  We have the support to make the changes.  And I think it’s very clear the public wants us to get something done.  Of course, we’re going to work across the aisle.  But one person, like Senator Rand Paul, shouldn’t be able to hold up the Department of Defense Bill.”

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Senate Banking Committee


Sources at NBC News anticipate that Massachusetts Senator elect Elizabeth Warren will become a member of the Senate Banking Committee.  As a member of the Banking Committee, she’ll have influence over proposed regulations of Wall Street and the banking industry.  She warned: “To all the small business owners who are tired of the system rigged against them, we’re going to hold the big guys accountable.

Elizabeth Warren helped created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as part of Dodd/Frank financial reform.  Reportedly, Republicans have threatened to block Warren from being chosen for the Banking Committee. 

Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who is a member of the Banking Committee explains: “She will join Senator Merkley, Senator Jack Reid, several of us on this committee that have always had a pro-consumer attitude.  It will help us.  I’ve worked on legislation to break up the six largest trillion-dollar banks because they are too big to manage and too big to regulate, leading to too big to fail.  And her joining us on that committee will matter, because she will speak strongly on these kinds of issues, to make sure Wall Street reform is carried out the way we meant it, to make sure the consumer agency is as strong as possible, and to make sure we can move further legislatively.”

The Dodd-Frank financial reform is still in a crucial stage, because it’s regulations aren’t fully enforced and in place.  The Banking Committee hasn’t been able to break up the six largest banks, whose combined assets represent 65 percent of our nation’s GDP.  Those banks are too powerful.  

Senator Brown anticipates Elizabeth Warren joining those on the Banking committee to continue efforts to strengthen legislation, and make sure the enforcement powers are in place so that regulators can do their jobs.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Shills for the Rich


Congressional Republicans are offering exactly the same plan that Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney were promoting during their election campaign.  Allegedly, they want to limited tax deductions for the rich, but refuse to specify what those deductions would be.  

They want to raise the age of eligibility for Medicare, and make spending cuts, but they’re not clear what spending they intend to cut.  They’re eager to cut domestic discretionary spending, which means cutting many of the programs that the middle class and the poor in our country depend on.  However, most Republicans in Congress continue to refuse to raise tax rates on the very rich.  

In fact, congressional Republicans are going after the middle class because we have a large budget deficit down the road and they don’t want to cut military spending.  Consequently, they’re going to have to cut programs that are beneficial to the middle class and/or raise taxes on the middle class.

This is another example of the war on the middle class, that Republicans started many years ago.  We’ve had an election and voters repudiated their reverse Robin Hood economics.  Although, the Senate has already passed an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the middle class, Speaker John Boehner will not schedule a vote on the central issue that Obama won the election on.

Speaker Boehner is under increasing pressure to schedule a vote on extending the Bush tax cuts for those earning $250,000 or less.  Republicans don’t want to raise taxes on the rich, because for decades raising taxes on the top 2 percent has been basically sacrosanct.  Should Republicans continue to stick to an agenda of being the shills for the wealthy in this country and maintaining a war on the middle class, they’re going to be voted out of office.
  

Thursday, December 06, 2012

One Mandate


President Barack Obama announced: “With respect to the issue of mandate, I’ve got one mandate.  I’ve got a mandate to help middle-class families and families that are working hard to try to get into the middle class.  That’s my mandate.  That’s what the American people said.  They said:  Work really hard to help us.  Don’t worry about the politics of it; don’t worry about the party interests; don’t worry about the special interests.  Just work really hard to see if you can help us get ahead -- because we’re working really hard out here and we’re still struggling, a lot of us.  That’s my mandate.”
Obama doesn’t expect that since he won the election that every American will agree with him on everything, however he didn’t get reelected just to bask in reelection.  He got elected to work on behalf of American families and small businesses, who are still recovering from a terrible recession. 
He insists, that as he travelled around our country, he was inspired by the “grit and resilience and hard work and decency of the American people.”  He met families who overcome very tough odds and were somehow making it and sending their kids to college.  He met farmers who were helping each other during times of drought, and businesses that kept their doors open during the recession, even though the owner didn’t take a salary. 
Obama understand that Americans deserve a better government than they've been getting.  Their representatives in Washington should be thinking every day, about how they can make things better, which isn't to say that everything those representatives will do is going to be perfect.  He recognizes that there are going to be some “tough challenges that we have to grapple with.  But I do know the federal government can make a difference.” 

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Follow the Money


Grover Norquist started his anti-tax pledge back in 1986, when Ronald Reagan was President, our deficit was $220 billion.  

In 1986, we were the the largest creditor, as well as the largest exporter of manufactured goods, and importer of raw materials on the planet.  As a consequence of Reagan’s “starving beast” ideology, in just 26 years, our county has become the largest importer of finished goods, manufactured goods, and exporter of raw materials. 

In 2001 and 2003, congressional Republicans passed two of the most expensive tax cuts for the wealthy in history.  The richest 1% of Americans saw their income go up an average of more than 10% each year between 2002 and 2007.  The middle class saw their income stay about the same, and the number of people in poverty increased.  Those tax cuts resulted in the slowest job growth in half a century, and over eight million Americans lost jobs during the Bush presidency. 

Mitt Romney's  private sector experience shows that he invested in companies that were considered "pioneers" of outsourcing.  Outsourcing has led to the loss of four million manufacturing jobs over the past six years.  Forty thousand factories closed during the Bush administration.  However, Tea Party Republican propagandist continue to claim, that tax cuts benefited the economy even after the Bush-era tax cuts provided irrefutable proof that tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires didn’t stimulate the economy.

Voters need to know about the money trail, that supports lobbyist Norguist’s group.  In 2010, sixty-six percent of funding for Norguist’s group the Americans for Tax Refore, came from two billionaire groups.  Karl Rove’s group, Crossroads GPS, gave $4 million, and, the Center to Protect Patients Rights, one of the front groups for the Koch brothers, gave over $4 million to Norquist’s group.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Buffett’s Logic


The world’s fourth richest man, Warren Buffett has demonstrated the ability to distill elaborate financial concepts into plain English.  Repeatedly, he has advocated for higher tax rates for the wealthy.  Last week, in the New York Times Op-Ed section, Buffett calling for a higher capital-gains tax rate.
For many years, capital gains have been taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income, partly in order to spur investment.  The idea is that if taxpayers spend their money by investing in wealth-creating enterprises, we would all be better off than we’d be if the wealthy simply spent their money consuming luxury goods or expensive vacation.
Mr. Buffett has taken aim at that logic, by writing: “Suppose that an investor you admire and trust comes to you with an investment idea.  He enthusiastically insists: ‘This is a good one.  I’m in it, and I think you should be, too.’
“Would your reply possibly be this?  ‘Well, it all depends on what my tax rate will be on the gain you’re saying we’re going to make.  If the taxes are too high, I would rather leave the money in my savings account, earning a quarter of 1%.”  Only in Grover Norquist’s imagination does such a response exist.”
Buffett is basically arguing that investors will invest, regardless of what portion the government takes out of their profit after the fact, and that we shouldn’t worry about using the tax code to encourage investment.  Instead, he suggests, we should worry that a lower capital-gains rate is unfair to those who make most of their income from labor, which is taxed at a higher rate under current law.  It’s this wrinkle in the tax code, after all, that allowed Mitt Romney to pay such low effective tax rates in 2010 and 2011.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Knock His Head Off


Perhaps, a good thing that will be coming out of the fiscal cliff mess is the demise of lobbyist Grover Norquist and his anti-tax pledge.  He has managed to intimidate congressional Republicans for decades, but that is about to end.

Former Republican senator, Alan Simpson pointed out: “He was gathering up those signatures back in the ‘80s and early ‘90s when inflation was zip, when unemployment was zip, and anybody who would sign anything before they come to Congress and hear the debate and participate in it hopefully.  I mean, why would you do that?  It is like selling your soul.  Let me tell you, he is becoming irrelevant.  You can see it in his eyes.  He knows the game is up, because good people of good faith have decided instead of being Republicans or Democrats, they are Americans.”

Norquist claimed: “Two things.  The pledge is not for life but everybody who signed the pledge, including Peter King, who tried to weasel out of it -- shame on him as "The New York Sun" said today.  I hope his wife understands that commitments last a little longer than two years or something.  The commitment for the pledge as Peter King well knows when he signed it is that as long as you are in Congress, you will rein in spending and reform government, not raise taxes.”

New York, Republican Congressman Peter King responded: “The fact he brought my wife into it.  He’s never -- I don’t think he has ever met me, certainly never met my wife.  And he better hope he doesn’t.  She will knock his head off... I did sign a pledge back in 1996, during the whole conflict with the Clinton administration over the government shutdown.  And I was totally opposed to any tax increases at that time.” 

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Precious Right


Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a onetime Republican turned independent recently said the following on “The Rachel Maddow Show”:  
“But, you know, when you’re elected governor of your state, you’re not elected governor of the Republicans or Democrats, you’re elected governor of the people, and you have a duty and obligation -- at least that’s what I felt -- to look out for all of the people.  And you’re not supposed to be partisan when carrying out something as precious as the right to vote, something that people have fought and died for in our country, and I just felt partisanship involved in democracy at that level was absolutely wrong.
“There’s a lot of good people here in Florida and it’s very discouraging to see that kind of black eye put on us when it’s not necessary at all.  And the fact there’s some massive fraud as the excuse or the red herring to do that is laughable.  I mean, the obvious reason -- why else would you take 14 days of early voting and, you know, condense it down to eight days and make that more difficult or make it even harder for people to do absentee balloting here in Florida?

“You know, certainly, it’s not voter encouragement.  To say the least, it is voter discouragement.  And I think absolutely the wrong thing to do is as I said earlier, make this precious right more difficult to exercise than easier.

“This ought to be something that we push as hard as we can to make sure that every Floridian, every American has the opportunity to vote their will and to exercise their right to elect their leaders in the most convenient way possible and people who stand in the way of doing that should be held accountable for having done so.

“It is absolutely unprincipled.  It is wrong and it shouldn’t happen.  And here’s the irony. Floridians took care of business.  On Election Day, they took care of business and they stood in line even after the presidential election had been called nationally, Floridians stayed in those lines because they wanted to cast that ballot.

“They were told in essence, this is what you cannot do.  When you tell people that, they’re like, really?  Who are you to tell me what to do?  And so, they were determined. They became infuriated and they absolutely made up their mind they’re going to exercise that precious right and cast that ballot no matter what and they did.  And God bless Floridians for it.”

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Recipe for Disaster


The leadership of the Republican Party is bent on continuing down a path of purging moderate Republicans from their ranks.  The results from the election clearly indicate that voters in Indiana, Missouri and Florida have begun to do it for them. 

Continuing to push moderates out of the Republican Party is a recipe for disaster, and if they continue on that path, they’ll continue to see fewer gains in elections across our country.

Reasonable people like former Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana didn’t survive a primary challenge, by tea party favorite Richard Mourdock.  Democrat Joe Donnelly beat the Republican candidate for Richard Lugar’s open Senate seat after Mourdock announced: “Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

Another tea party extremist, congressman Todd Akin failed to defeat Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri.  While answering a question about whether or not abortion should be legal in the case of rape.  He said: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” 

Akins claimed: “I had heard one time a medical report, that said it’s hard to get, it’s harder for somebody to get pregnant under those conditions.  First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare.”

Republican Congressman Allen West lost his bid for re-election in Florida’s 18 congressional district, to Democrat Patrick Murphy.
Rep West famously said: “I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party who are members of the communist party.  They actually don’t hide that.  It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.”

Rep. Mike McIntyre’s victory in North Carolina gave Democrats a net gain of eight House seats.  The next Congress will consist of 234 Republicans and 201 Democrats.