Jeb Bush for President in 2016? Some people are saying that the Republican presidential nomination is already wrapped up, long before the primaries have even begun. They say Jeb Bush is a sure thing. However, some Republicans are determined to see anybody but Bush in 2016.
“He is too moderate for the Republican base,” says Nixon protege and professional firebrand Pat Buchanan.
Daniel Larison, senior editor at The American Conservative, writes of Jeb Bush that:
– “He doesn’t seem likely to offer any new ideas.”
- “He will have been out of office for over a decade by the time the voting starts.”
– “Like his brother when he ran for president, Jeb Bush has no foreign policy experience to speak of, and to the best of my knowledge he has never shown much interest in the subject.”
– “Considering the state that the last Bush left the GOP in, there can’t be very many Republicans that want to turn to that family a third time for leadership.”
– “The last thing that Republicans need is to contest another election in Bush’s shadow.”
– “I can see the slogan now: ‘Vote for Jeb Bush–he’s not as incompetent as his brother!'”
Republican columnist Michelle Malkin protests against Jeb Bush’s “top-down” efforts to “bamboozle” Republican voters, decrying his “phony” “crony contracts, big-government and big-business collusion masquerading as ‘reform.'” She calls him “tone-deaf, ethics-blind”, and “phony-baloney”. “And remember,” she warns. “Astro-turfing runs in the Bush family.”
How far will the Republican rebellion against Jeb Bush go? We don’t know, but we’re happy to encourage it along its path with this Republicans Against Jeb Bush bumper sticker.
In case you were wondering, it’s now been 517 days since a petition to pardon Edward Snowden surpassed the required 100,000-signature threshold to receive a response from President Barack Obama on his “We The People” official government petition page. Back then, Barack Obama had been posing as the transparency president. The responsiveness president. The justice president. He pledged to communicate regarding all petitions making it past 100,000 signatures. But then it turned out that he was acting behind the scenes as the warrantless surveillance president, and once Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing made the whole illegal affair transparent to the American people, it became quickly clear that President Obama would be having none of that transparency or responsiveness business any longer. So the president promptly began ignoring petitions he didn’t like, including the petition to pardon Edward Snowden — which, if you think about it, kind of undermines the whole idea of submitting a petition in the first place.
Outside the White House, nobody seems to care about this any more. We’re moving on… to what future?
Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4082, legislation that will, if it is passed by the Senate and signed into law, force researchers to share the private medical information of American citizens with the federal government.
H.R. 4082 requires that any scientific study that is used to inform policy decisions at the Environmental Protection Agency must reveal its complete raw data to the government, or it has to be tossed out.
Raw data in scientific studies related to human health frequently includes information not just about people’s medical conditions, but also their drug and alcohol use, personal income, and even sexual behavior. This information is, in the form of raw data, often linked to research participants’ real names.
Should the federal government know about Americans’ sexual habits? Should it have information about their private medical treatments? 237 members of the U.S. House of Representatives think so. They voted in favor of H.R. 4082 yesterday.
The Republican Party keeps saying that it’s against big government, so you might think that it was the House Republicans who voted against H.R. 4082. In reality, almost all of the representatives who voted for H.R. 4082 were Republicans. Only one Republican had the decency to vote against this big government intrusion into Americans’ private medical records: Chris Gibson.
The Republicans were the ones who came up with H.R. 4082 in the first place. They gave it a nasty name, too: The Secret Science Reform Act – implying that the personal information of people participating in medical research should be made open to everybody to look at.
This provision was designed as a poison pill to bring the work of the EPA to a halt. The Republicans in Congress understand that the idea of exposing the private lives of people who volunteer to participate in medical research is so unethical that no researchers would ever agree to the new terms dictated by H.R. 4082. In fact, in most circumstances, it is against the law for medical researchers to share their raw data.
The Secret Science Reform Act was designed to prevent the federal government from having access to medical research, and to stop regulations designed to protect the American people from threats to their health. The legislation would bring our country back to the days when our waters were toxic, consumer goods were loaded with poisons, and the bald eagle was on the verge of extinction – all for the sake of corporate profits.
Not ALL of the blame for this congressional assault against Americans’ health, data privacy, and scientific integrity goes to the Republicans, however. Eight House Democrats joined the Republicans to vote for H.R. 4082. Their names are:
Chellie Pingree?!? I thought she was supposed to be a liberal. She ought to know better, but perhaps Representative Pingree simply sees the way the wind is blowing, and is happy to go along with the rising tide of right wing politics in America, health, privacy and science be damned.
This week I received an odd piece of mail — one of those solicitations asking for a donation to some cause while providing a small, token gift. That strategy came from social science research indicating that the provision of a small gift leads to the feeling of obligation, which in turn leads to a
higher likelihood of monetary extraction from the mass mail blast greater charitable donation. This time, the token gift was a set of address labels featuring a patriotic snowman. The snowman, smiling a big smile and sporting a bigger hat, waved a bright American flag.
Well, I didn’t like that, I could tell you, but I hoped it was an anomaly. Perhaps this was just one single, solitary American-flag-waving snowman. That we could all deal with. But no. A quick search reveals that we are veritably surrounded by patriotic, red white and blue snowmen:
What are we to make of this? I just don’t trust appearances, I tell you. You might think that these are jolly, patriotic, America-loving, red-blooded Snowmen ready to bake apple pies and die for their country, but I. Don’t. Think. So. There’s something shifty, dishonest, and downright treasonous about these snowmen in Yankee Doodle’s clothing. Think about it:
1. Where are they from, in the first place? Not from around here, I can tell you that. They probably blew in from the Canada to the North, or worse, from the West, where Yellow China lies, without a passport, undocumented, illegal, even. You never see a snowman press “1” for English!
2. Obviously didn’t work for their clothing.
3. Scarves are kind of French.
4. Cold heart, warm _____? Hide the womenfolk.
5. With eyes made out of coal, they increase our dependence on foreign sources of energy.
6. Something sinister always lurks behind a frozen smile.
7. The hats remind one of Charles Dickens.
At least they’re white. But I smell a plot, I tell you, and we’ll have none of this Tiny Tim nonsense around here. This is America! Fifth Column Snowmen, go back to San Fransokyo where you belong.
This morning, I walked out my front door to discover that sometime last night, a lavender plant, nearly a decade old, had been ripped out of the ground and thrown onto the sidewalk.
To me, this is an abhorrent act. A lavender plant provides flavor for food, blossoms for the eye, and nectar for bees. Lavender doesn’t harm anyone, and I am unable to understand why someone would seek to destroy it.
I’ve replanted what is left of the roots. There are a few green shoots remaining at the base after last night’s rude yanking. However, even if the plant survives the transplantation, it will take quite some time for it to return to its former size and strength.
Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon who retired from medicine in order to take up a career as a right wing commentator on Fox News, only to retire from Fox News in order to become a candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, likes to talk about “our Judeo-Christian values” as if everyone in America has “Judeo-Christian values” (and as if Jewish values and Christian values can be smashed together as if there are no differences).
Among the planks of Carson’s Christian campaign for President that Run Ben Run chooses to overlook is his advocacy for Creationism. Ben Carson accuses scientists who accept the development of life through natural selection of spreading immorality, and calls evolution a rival faith to his Christian Creationism. “Carbon dating and all of these things really don’t mean anything to a God who has the ability to create anything at any point in time,” Carson writes.
With this zealous fundamentalism, Ben Carson has inspired the formation of a Super PAC, gathering shadowy money from anonymous donors on his behalf. That Super PAC, Run Ben Run, isn’t content to advocate for public policy solutions, but is supporting the adoption of Creationism as part of a new Christian national identity. The Super PAC writes, “To embrace the theory of evolution takes as much faith as it does to believe in creation. A LAW OF SCIENCE states that things left to themselves “tend to go from order to disorder”. If a person finds a smart phone in the woods, who doesn’t check to see who made the phone? Is it an iPhone? A Samsung? Nobody thinks that the phone evolved over time. Rather, if it were there for a long time it would deteriorate and ultimately would not function at all. How much faith does it take to believe that the most complex ecosystem and system of life imaginable just happened to evolve by itself from some amoeba?”
The people at Run Ben Run don’t seem to understand that science isn’t really structured, as religion is, around laws that must never be broken. Instead, science proposes explanations for natural phenomena, and then tests them. So, a scientist someone talks about “laws of thermodynamics”, such as the idea that systems tend toward entropy, that scientist is actually just talking about a testable suggestion that, if it doesn’t match reality, should be rejected. The fact is that the natural world exhibits many systems in which increasingly organized systems derive from the fundamental physical characteristics of our universe. If you don’t believe this, I ask that you review the curriculum of the Big History Project, which addresses this specific concept.
Aside from the scientific illiteracy of Ben Carson and his followers, Americans may be shying away from Carson’s extremist Christian ideology because it brings back uncomfortable memories of what happened the last time Christianity was allowed to control government in America. The first set of laws for the Massachusetts Colony declared that any son who failed to obey his father would be executed, any person who failed to practice Christianity would be put to death, and anyone who committed an act of blasphemy would be killed by the government.
When Ben Carson talks about getting elected President so that he can lead America in “returning to our Judeo-Christian values”, this is the sinister legacy he invokes: Death to all who refuse to believe his Gospel.
“If anyone is interested in writing for _____, get in touch. We cover art, design, fashion, music, video, etc. and have writers based all over the world. It’s voluntary, but looks great on a CV.”
“This unpaid internship is a great opportunity to enhance your fundraising skills applicable in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors, while contributing to meaningful social change!”
When I see messages like these, I get a special kind of nauseated feeling. For people to come up with the idea of profiting from other people’s labor, without paying compensation for it, and presenting the arrangement as if it’s a tremendous opportunity, is astonishingly arrogant.
It is predictable that private businesses would try to get away with this kind of thing, but I’d like to think that our government would not follow suit. Every very branch of the federal government, after all, has a budget. The budget includes pay for staff members. If there isn’t enough money to pay staff members for their work, then the budget isn’t large enough, or the staff is too large.
I suppose I’m naive for thinking that our own government would lead the way in paying people fair wages for their work, because actually, it turns out that the practice of having people work without pay is rampant in the U.S. Congress.
We see, for example, on the web site of U.S. Representative Virginia Foxx a “job bank” that includes postings for many positions for work without pay. For example: “The office of Congressman Bill Johnson (R-OH) is currently seeking highly motivated and organized applicants for a full or part-time unpaid internship for the 2015 spring internship program.” If you want to work for Congressman Bill Johnson, not only will you get no wages in exchange, but you have to be highly motivated and organized as well!
U.S. Representative Rodney Davis also wants his unpaid staff members to be organized, but he demands that they be “prompt, responsible, and ready to work in a fast-paced environment” too. “Strong oral and communication skills are a must.”
Congressman Bill Shuster demands that his workers be prepared to labor “in a fast-paced environment. Duties include, but are not limited to: opening mail, answering phones, constituent correspondence, attending briefings, assisting with legislative research, and providing aid to staff-members with various projects. The ideal candidate will be a hard-working, detail oriented professional with strong oral and written communication skills.” Shuster isn’t willing to pay for the work of such an ideal candidate, however.
Representative Jason Smith of Missouri is using unpaid workers to “answer constituent letters”, so that he doesn’t have to waste his time with voters himself.
U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler insists that her unpaid workers “maintain a positive attitude”. At the end of long days of work in a “fast paced environment”, without even being given any money for food or shelter, workers are expected to give an enthusiastic “Thank you!” for the “opportunity”.
When our own elected representatives in government treat their workers this way, how can any of us expect a fair deal on the job?
Since I moved to Maine, I’ve learned that Mainers think of some parts of their state as better than others. “Real Maine” includes the mill town of Millinocket, for example, but that term apparently doesn’t encompass the pastry, coffee and theater row of Hallowell. Someone needs to tell the thousands of people living in Hallowell that they’re fake people. Head a bit to the southwest and you’ll hit the small city of Lewiston, which has perhaps the worst reputation of all communities in Maine. Tell a neighbor you’re headed to Lewiston for the day, and they might look at you skeptically and ask, “What do you want to go there for?” Ask someone on the street what the most dangerous, crime ridden town in Maine might be, and most of the time you’ll hear the prompt reply: “Lewiston!”
Lewiston’s reputation is tied up with judgments about immigration. Mainers have never been especially fond of outsiders, and in 2001 some really noticeable outsiders started coming to Lewiston. That’s the year refugees from war-torn Somalia started settling in Lewiston, and the conventional wisdom in Maine holds that Lewiston’s been getting more and more dangerous ever since.
Last year, I looked into crime reports through 2012 and found out that the conventional wisdom is wrong. It turns out that Lewiston has a violent crime rate and a property crime rate that are pretty typical of Maine’s other cities. In fact, I found out, the crime rate has declined, not gone up, since Somalis started to arrive. The negative judgment against Lewiston and its community of Somali immigrants, I concluded, is at odds with observable reality.
With the passing of another year, a new year of crime statistics (the Uniform Crime Reports tabulated by the FBI into a report called Crime in the United States) is available. In 2013, twelve full years after the arrival of Somali immigrants, did their imagined crime wave in Lewiston finally come to pass?
No. As you can see in the following graphs, the property crime rate and violent crime rate in Lewiston remain lower, not higher, than before Somali immigrants began to make Lewiston their home:
Lewiston is still a much safer place since Somalis came to town. When will the people of Maine notice the positive difference?